City of Springfield, Missouri

Funding Received: 2013
Springfield, MO
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
October 9, 2013

 Artists’ roundtable meets outside the ideaXfactory

Outdoor activities have punctuated the landscape around ideaXfactory as September brought shorter days, cooler nights, and returning MSU and Drury University students to center city. At an informal street art roundtable, artists shared work and ideas and discussed potential opportunities to create an outdoor street art wall. A temporary display of paintings done at Live Art for Artsfest and the Contemporary Art Street Jam was set up to give people a sense of what a permanent outdoor street art gallery could do for a developing Greenways trail.


Painted 4’x8’ wood panels displayed against a retaining wall. All photos by by Pam RuBert

This exhibit was shown during “Friday to be Downtown,” a September 6 collaboration with the Urban Districts Alliance and Lemondrop that featured Scott Sauer and Mr. K painting live on 4’×8’ panels outside the ideaXfactory. The Community Partnership of the Ozarks set up tables with free food and drinks, and the public was invited to join in the painting.


Inside the ideaXfactory during “Friday to be Downtown,” we exhibited a new installation by Cathy Russell using thousands of recycled aluminum cans, crushed and burnt to a copper-gold patina and assembled into a tree called “The family that drinks together, stays together.” The installation was made of crushed, scorched aluminum cans by Russell and interactive neon sculptures by Russ RuBert illuminated the center of our gallery space. Outside after dark, his animated video projections activated the historic silos near the ideaXfactory.


Interactive neon sculptures by Russ RuBertTo mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream”  speech, the Greater Springfield Race and Faith Collaborative organized a Unity March that utilized over a 100 volunteers and brought thousands more to downtown Park Central Square. Rehearsal for the Unity March and “I Have a Dream” celebration Inspired by MLK projections on historic silos in the IDEA Commons, the collaborative organizers asked artist Russ RuBert and the ideaXfactory to projectKing’s speech on a 30’ wide mega-screen constructed by Springfield Public Works. Cindy Lear, co-owner of Associates in Sign Language interpreted the historic footage Springfield City Manager Greg Burris announced the event would kick off an entire year of focus on civil rights issues in Springfield to encourage more diversity in work and educational environments.


Before King’s speech, an original video created by the City of Springfield was shown on the big screen, and afterwards, speeches by Rev. Mark Struckhoff, Mayor Bob Stephens, Dr. Ken Cooper, Cheryl Cooper, Rev. Phil Snider and other leaders of the collaborative. Leaders of the Greater Springfield Race and Faith Collaborative on stage Ed Peaco, a writer for the Springfield NewsLeader said, “My wife and I have lived here more than 30 years, and I never expected that anything like this would ever happen here. This march was exhilarating.”

Additional Recent Wins
Missouri State University has completed renovations and moved Ceramics and Metals Art Departments to neighboring Brick City in the IDEA Commons, bringing 545 art and design majors together downtown. Brick City kicks off the fall semester with a ribbon-cutting for the new facilities with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

- ideaXfactory founding committee members, nicknamed the “Fab Five,” were recognized when Russ and Pam RuBert were awarded Individual Artist Awards at the Flights of Fancy Ozzie Awards Banquet held on September 7th, and an event also featuring Barbara Shephard of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

- Art of Space, a participatory public art group led by Gerard Nadeau that partners on selected ideaXfactory projects, and Drury University sculpture professor Blaine Whisenhunt teamed up to create an community-created outdoor installation at the Springfield Art Museum which will be on display until the end of October.

- The ideaXfactory yarn-bombers made an appearance at the Japanese Fall Festival with installations and hands-on demonstrations to teach festival attendees techniques for making art from yarn.

Diverse social gatherings organized around the arts by artists can create new friendships, collaborations and creativity that may not happen in other ways. These activities are not predictable and may not be valued by some people because they don’t seem to be quantifiable. Recently however, we found a new statistical measure for cities being researched by University of Utah professor Steven Farber that he calls “Social Interaction Potential.” He studied 42 of the largest U.S. cities to measure population, decentralization and commute times to find how much time people might have to engage in face-to-face socialization after work. The SIP relates to the strength of a city because socialization builds social capital, and bigger is not better. Bigger cities might have more people to meet, but also more distance and time between them. Higher SIP cities have a strong central core where creativity and cross-pollination of ideas can happen during social interaction.This opinion column for the Springfield Business Journal speaks to the impact ofthe ideaXfactory and the arts on the SIP of Springfield: