Best Public Art (2002)
Solar Time Panel
"What the heck is that?" is probably a common reaction to this large, rectangular metal panel perched on three round pillars facing the library. The horizontal slab is tilted slightly upward, as if it's a mirror for the library's imposing façade. Or maybe, you might speculate, it's some sort of mysterious receiver for signals from outer space. But no, it's a piece of art -- a fact that becomes evident only if you're in the right place at the right time. The sculpture comes alive with brilliant color when the sunlight hits it just so, creating iridescent patterns that dance across the textured surface as you move past it. The panel is the work of Dale Eldred, who chaired the Sculpture Department at Missouri's Kansas City Art Institute for three decades. Eldred specialized in public art, particularly works that, like this one, explore the relationship between the earth and the sun. He died in the "500-Year Flood" of 1993, when the Missouri River swept through Kansas City, leaving behind a body of works (including this one) that depend upon the context of the urban outdoors for their ephemeral effects.