Serenity Art Project in NOTO

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Welcome to Serenity, a unique kinetic art project.

Sculpture design & project development: John Hunter | Panel design: Barbara Waterman-Peters

John Hunter

John Hunter had a dream.

He wanted to create something amazing for the NOTO Arts District to honor the hard work, ingenuity and dedication of the incredible people who came together to create this unique, arts-centric destination in historic North Topeka. He envisioned an art sculpture but something more – a kinetic experience of sunlight and color on a larger-than-life scale. He was going to need some help.

First, he asked his wife, Lynette and she said, “Go for it!” He then met with his close friend, nationally-renowned artist Barbara Waterman-Peters, seeking her collaboration. Barbara enthusiastically agreed. Then, he approached Tom Underwood, the executive director of NOTO with his ideas and Tom and the NOTO board reviewed and approved the project to move forward. Finally, after months of painstaking planning and design, John was ready to reach out to his friends in the community at large to help make his dream a reality. The rest is art history.

John and Lynette dedicate this sculpture to the volunteers who gave their time and energy and the small business people who took the risk to help restore this important and historic district we now call NOTO.

We hope you enjoy Serenity. Take a deep breath and pause for a moment to reflect on the beauty and light filling the world around us. Thank you for visiting!

PROJECT PRINCIPALS

John and Lynette Hunter

John & Lynette Hunter

Lynette has been a lifelong gardener which is why there is an Iris flower motif on the panels. She has also been a tremendous supporter of the community development projects that John has been involved in over their many years in Topeka.

The color and light of Serenity connects with John’s career as a stage and lighting designer for theatre and dance, numerous community arts development projects including being founding co-chair of NOTO with Anita Wolgast. This blend of nature and art stands as our commitment to NOTO, the North Topeka Arts and Entertainment District.

Enjoy the peace and calm as you experience Serenity in all its color and beauty.

-John & Lynette Hunter

Barbara Waterman-Peters

Barbara Waterman-Peters – “What NOTO Means to Me”

The NOTO Arts & Entertainment District has been a reality for thirteen years. I moved into my studio at 831 North Kansas Avenue in November of 2010. Since that year many new artists and businesses have moved in (and out in some cases) and events of all sorts have been held. We have been featured by the media, talked about in many presentations and conversations and played a role in Topeka’s vitality. Our First Friday Art Walk crowds are huge. We have the NOTO Arts Center, Redbud Park, Breezeway Park, wonderful shops, restaurants, and service businesses. The executive director, along with the NOTO Board of Directors, and the arts center staff have worked tirelessly to ensure the enhancement and sustainability of our wonderful district.

We have Art with a capital “A.” Galleries, exhibits, studios, classes, and workshops contribute to the creative energy found here. Live music and poetry readings are frequent offerings. And we have public art: sculptures, murals and banners adorn street corners, walls, and light posts. Little Otto, my brainchild, is our mascot, and he is featured on murals, utility boxes, and trash cans. He welcomes everyone!

NOTO is dear to my heart and far exceeds the vision we had at the beginning. Watching it grow, meeting so many marvelous people, participating in the excitement, and yet having the quiet time and space to create my art have made all the work worthwhile.

Serenity is joining an already impressive array of art and fun; it is my privilege to be part of it.

-Barbara Waterman-Peters

MAIN SPONSOR

KAW Valley Bank

KAW Valley Bank

Kaw Valley Bank has been a part of Topeka community for over 150 years, with its roots starting in Oakland, eventually growing into North Topeka, and later city wide. The bank’s love for NOTO started with its previous owners Dr. Glenn Swogger and his wife, Claire. With their passing the Redbud Foundation was set up to further support the arts, where their legacy continues in the NOTO Arts and Entertainment District. 

With nearly 90 employees, Kaw Valley Bank continues to embrace the Topeka community and is one of the largest employers in North Topeka serving generations throughout the city and the surrounding area.

Kaw Vally Bank’s support of the Serenity Project is a way of honoring the historic district of NOTO and its accomplishments through the years.

PANEL SPONSORS

Darrell Six & Trenda Young

Darrell Six & Trenda Young

Darrell Six has been a North Topeka leader for many years. Through his generous volunteer efforts and financial support to the redevelopment of this important historic district, Darrell proved change could happen. Starting first by serving as Vice President of the Board for the Great Overland Station redevelopment project followed by his work with City Planning Department on the master plan to redo the infrastructure along North Kansas Ave, Darrell was the definition of “a mover and shaker.”

In 2009 Darrell became one of the founding members of the NOTO Board. The commonly used walk-through between the NOTO parking lot and the district is all thanks to his efforts. His major remodeling to his building at 800 N. Kansas Ave is now home to the Dirty Girls Adventures. He was there during every development phase of this wonderful addition to our city that we now call the NOTO Arts and Entertainment District.

Support for the Serenity Project was important to them because, Trenda says, “It makes Topeka a more special place to live because it improves our character and enhances our quality of life.”

Serenity Project provides beauty for all to enjoy.

-Darrell Six and Trenda Young

Charlene & Jim Robuck

Jim & Charlene Robuck – “Not just another ‘pie in the sky’ idea…”

The 2009 NOTO Arts District plan was real!  When we visited with Anita Wolgast and John Hunter, we became convinced the idea for the development of an “Arts District” was possible.

In 1996 we purchased the property at 109 NW. Laurent and opened Robucks Jewelry. Over the years we purchased 14 properties in the district for the sole purpose of saving them from total ruin. As NOTO evolved, we restored many of the buildings, returning them to productive business properties, including some with second floor housing. Little did we know at that time we were going to play a major role in the revitalization of this historic North Topeka area.

Serenity recognizes both volunteers and proud business people like us who recognized the possibility for change. We invite everyone to celebrate the accomplishments of the people who made a difference in North Topeka.

-JIm & Charlene Robuck

Marsha Pope

Topeka Community Foundation

The Topeka Community Foundation, founded in 1983, is a nonprofit charitable organization that enhances the quality of life for all Topekans. Through funds entrusted to us by our donors, we make grants to nonprofit organizations to create opportunities in our community wherever the need is greatest.

Support for this project aligns with the Foundation’s commitment to community development and our belief that community development ties directly to economic development. As we invest in holistic economic development opportunities – Serenity provides a lasting arts and culture experience for our entire community.

-Marsha Pope, President

Senne Companhy Logo

Matt McGivern, Senne Company

Senne Company is a North Topeka general contractor, millwright contractor, and custom fabricator. Once John Hunter and Barbara Waterman-Peters had Serenity’s art objectives established, our company helped finalize the structural and design decisions ensuring a durable product that retained the design intentions of the artists.

Services provided included fabricating the structural steel and installing the finished product.

Senne has been a supporter of the NOTO Arts & Entertainment District and the Redbud Sculpture Park for many years and is very proud to have helped with the Serenity project.

-Matt McGivern

PROJECT SPONSORS

Anita Wolgast

Anita Wolgast, NOTO Founding Co-chair

I am pleased to participate in Serenity, with thanks to John Hunter for his leadership of the project.

For those of us who were there at the beginning, it is a pleasure to see how NOTO has matured and developed from the first art studios and shops to a vibrant community of restaurants, retail and entertainment. The NOTO of today owes its success to our early volunteers and individuals who took a leap of faith and turned Kansas Avenue in North Topeka into an entity that is recognized throughout northeast Kansas and beyond, including national recognition.

My sincere thanks to all those who joined in making this possible.

-Anita L. Wolgast

Jodi & Stan Teeter

Stanley & JoAnne Teeter

Our donation to Serenity honors the lifelong contributions to the North Topeka community and to NOTO of our parents, Stanley and JoAnne Teeter. Through their enduring support of art, music, education, recreation, and spiritual life, they have truly made our community a better place.

-Scott Teeter and Peg McCarthy, Wayne and Cathy Teeter, Marilyn Teeter Disch, Carolyn Teeter DeSalvo and Frank DeSalvo

Beth and Duane Fager

Duane & Beth Fager

We are happy to support Serenity in NOTO – a beautiful addition to the lively arts environment found there!

We have been involved in North Topeka since the restoration of the Union Pacific Railroad Station and its transformation into the Great Overland Station.

The seed of the NOTO Arts District was envisioned and planted – and encouraged – by the Topeka Long-Range Plan and brought to life by Heartland Visioning, John Hunter, Anita Wolgast, Barbara Waterman-Peters and the North Topeka business community, Under the leadership of Tom Underwood and the NOTO Board, Shawnee County and Momentum 2022 the area has blossomed into a vibrant arts community. The Serenity project is a wonderful enhancement to the NOTO Arts District and in turn an asset to the entire Topeka Shawnee County area!

– Duane & Beth Fager

Umbrella Logo

Gary Piland, Umbrella | Roaring Rat Films

John Hunter and I go way back – sometime around the fall of the Roman Empire. Okay, let’s just say we’ve been friends and colleagues for many years. In fact, I’ll always owe John for making sure my incredible wife, Martha Bartlett Piland, attended Washburn University. On her college tour here, she met John and was so impressed she decided Washburn was the right school for her. We met just after she graduated. Lucky me.

But I digress.

When John Hunter makes up his mind to do something, you can be sure it will happen. So, when he approached me to help with the plaque and web page design work for Serenity, I knew it was a project I would be proud to add my name to.

Thanks for including me, John. Serenity is a superb artistic addition to the NOTO landscape.

-Gary Piland

4 Girls Garage Logo

4 Girls Garage

In August of 2012, Debbie Geist, Erin Hatton, Carol Ingenthron and Sandy Martin opened 4 Girls Garage in a 3 story building at 837 N. Kansas Avenue in the NOTO Arts District.

Formerly an Odd Fellows meeting hall with a ballroom on the third floor, they retained the original tin ceiling and exposed the structure’s interior rock wall creating a repurposing/antique store with an added mix of new items and various artists works. In 2022 the girls “retired’ and today there is a new shop in its place.

Per the partners, “It has been a very exciting journey watching the district grow and develop and and we enjoyed being a part of that growth. We support projects such as Serenity as a sign of the continued growth in Topeka’s commitment to the arts.”

-Carol Ingenthron, Debbie Geist, Erin Hatton and Sandy Martin

A final thank you…

We would like to thank our brilliant panel designer, Barbara Wateman-Peters, our main sponsor, KAW Valley Bank and our panel sponsors, Darrell Six and Trenda Young, Jim and Charlene Roebuck, the Topeka Community Foundation and Senne Company for their invaluable assistance. Without their support, this amazing addition to the NOTO Arts District would not have been possible.

 

Panel Sponsors

  • Darrell Six & Trenda Young: Lifetime financial and volunteer support of North Topeka
  • Jim & Charlene Roebuck: Anchor business owners and early investors in NOTO development
  • Topeka Community Foundation: Financial support of multiple community organizations
  • Matt McGivern & Randy Haas – Senne Co.: Fabrication and installation services

Project Sponsors

  • Duane & Beth Fager: Leadership positions with Great Overland Station, TPAC and Riverfront Authority
  • Stan & JoAnne Teeter: Major financial support of NOTO
  • Anita & Larry Wolgast: Co-chair of NOTO redevelopment
  • Gary Piland – Umbrella | Roaring Rat Films: Logo, plaque and web page design
  • Jim & Sandy Martin – 4 Girls Garage: Early startup business in NOTO

Project Supporters

  • Keith Soward – Soward Glass: Donated acrylic plastic sheeting
  • ArtsConnect: Financial support
  • NOTO Arts District Board: Project approval and long-term maintenance
  • Mary Thomas – Community Resource Council: Financial fundraising management
  • Tom Underwood – Executive Director, NOTO Arts District
  • Staci Ogle – Marketing and Communication Director, NOTO Arts District
  • Jeff Carson & Jennifer Goetz: Videography and photography
  • Ed & Jill Sondker: Project support
  • Brian Falk – Falk Architects: Grant writing and architectural support
  • Kip Slattery – Cope Plastics: Source for acrylic plastic
  • North Topeka Fabrication – Cut and coated the materials prior to final assembly and  installation
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