Mullinville could benefit from artwork marketing approach.
A special Town Hall Meeting was called in Mullinville on Tuesday July 16 so that members of the Kohler Art Foundation could inform area residents about plans for the artwork of M.T Liggett. Liggett died of renal failure after a battle with brain cancer on August 17, 2017. He was called “a Folk Artist and Provocateur” by the New York Times and had made a name for himself nationally for his art and wit.
To many in the area, Liggett was an eccentric old man who wanted to stir up trouble wherever he went. But to the art world M. T.Liggett was a fine artist. Prior to his death, Liggett put together a board of trustees to oversee his estate when he passed. After his death, that board contacted the Kohler Art Foundation about preserving his artwork.
Ruth Kohler visionary director of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, since 1972, established the Kohler foundation from the success of her family's famous business in 1967. The foundation is a separate entity for the art centre and is a leader of restoration and preservation of art. A recent project of the foundation is the Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas.
Leading the foundation for the Mullinville meeting was Terri Yoho, who address the crowd of more than 30 people who came to the meeting out or curiosity.
Yoho told the group that a 2,500 square foot visitors center with a 700 sq. ft. patio will be built on Liggett’s property located off U.S. Highway 400 just past Mullinville. The main floor will include a ceiling filled with Liggett's coffee mug collection of over 2,500 mugs.
“We want to see this be a destination location not just a drive by attraction,” Yoho said. “There will be a walking path for people to explore Liggett's artwork because to many this Kansas Prairie is just as beautiful as the artwork itself.”
Yoho said an estimated minimum of 20 cars stop along the highway daily to view the roadside sculptures, signs and whirligigs that often carried political messages thought up by Liggett.
“Projects like this can have a huge impact on small communities,” Yoho said.
Lucus, Kansas, with a town population less than 400 people, has seen an influx of visitors spending money at nearby restaurants and hotels because of the Garden of Eden. Yoho believes that can happen in Mullinville with a little bit of marketing for the community.
There is a team of nine people working on the project since earlier this year. The foundation hopes to be completed with their part of the project in 2020. It will then be turned over Greensburg’s 5.4.7. Arts Center, the closest 501c3 Art Center in the area. This center will then be responsible for maintaining the project and handling the paperwork and bookkeeping.
Yoho also stated that because of the connection now with the Kohler Foundation, it will be sending the arts center a check each year to help assist in maintaining the project as well as the entire remains of M.T. Liggett’s estate, which will be set up to assist in maintaining the project and the arts.
It is the practice of the Kohler foundation to take two or three pieces to the Kohler Art Centre in Wisconsin to assure that, if there is ever a natural disaster, they will still have a part of Liggett’s collection.
Local volunteers are needed to be on a Friends of M.T. Liggett committee to help maintain the property and pieces to assure the fine artwork is kept in the best possible care as possible in the future.Those interested in being involved may contact the 5.4.7. The foundation is only preserving and taking possession of the pieces on M.T. Liggett’s property and at the “Y” of 54/400 highways in Mullinville.
There still remains various pieces of Liggett artwork all over Kiowa County, specifically across the street from the Kiowa County Courthouse and Mullinville City Hall.