Member Spotlight

The Art of Living

Trying to describe what lies within the town of Lucas in mere words is far beyond my poor power to construct.  The best I can do, then, is to offer sets of photos to reflect a portion of the interesting peculiarities of Lucas, hoping that readers will travel to see the real thing in person.

The Setting

There is considerable beauty to be found north of exit 206 from Interstate 70 on Kansas Highway 232 in the 16 miles to Lucas. This is a typical photo of Smoky Hill country formed from west-to-east streams that cut through deep limestone deposits in what was once an ancient inland sea, creating lush grasslands today.
 
Along this route is the location of Wilson Lake, completed in 1964 on the Saline River, and considered one of our state's most scenic bodies of water. 
Eight miles north of Wilson Lake is the sign pointing in the direction of our destination and offering a hint of what is to be viewed upon arrival in the city. 

The City

Main Street in Lucas runs north and south.  Resting on a bench along Main Street on a warm September evening allows for peaceful contemplation about why the world doesn't just chill out on the front porch for a spell.
This photo finds a young man engrossed in viewing an electronic device.  Can you find him? 
Lucas' commercial tapestry includes Brant's Meat Market, which has been in the same family since 1922.  Listening to proprietor Doug Brant make a sale is worth every penny he entices you to spend on his great selection of meats and cheeses.
For a town of 400 residents to have a community theater is unusual and impressive!  The people in Lucas are very similar to people in every small Kansas town that I can remember, very friendly and of a mind to set their own pace in life. 

The Art  

The one title that Lucas holds and the one that draws more people from elsewhere than any other small town in our state is that of Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas. For this, Lucas is nationally recognized.  I am told that it all started in 1904 when S. P. Dinsmoor, a retired Civil War veteran, began building his home in residential Lucas. Dinsmoor added his own brand of sculpture to the landscape, creating the iconic art work he called the Garden of Eden seen in this photo.  This art form was later called Grassroots Art to describe any kind of art created by an untrained artist who may not have started dabbling in art until after retirement.

 

Completed in June 2012, this public restroom in downtown Lucas earned 2nd place in the "Best Public Restroom Contest" sponsored by the Cintas Corporation in 2014. Known as Bowl Plaza, the restroom has registered visitors from all 50 states and 66 countries as of August 2015.  How do they know?  Visitors are asked to sign a guest book upon entering the restroom.  Can you say TOURISM?
 

 

Grassroots Art in Kansas has a Center and it is located on the south end of Main Street in Lucas.  In it one will find a disparate collection of eclecticism that presents itself as artistic expression.  Quite unique and intriguing.  Take, for instance, the items captured in the three photos below.  The first is a rather sophisticated use of aluminum can pull tabs from back in the day when college kids like me simply used them to make window curtains.  This artist, Herman Divers, created a motorcycle and a car.  The center photo consists of a conglomeration of items collected from a drained lake near downtown Los Angeles in the 1960's.  The photo on the right is a closeup of a New York City Police Captain's badge that is part of the conglomeration.  How did the badge end up in a lake in Los Angeles?  Intriguing! 
    
 The Grassroots Art Center has an exhibit of Steampunk art created by Wichitan Gary Pendergrass seen in the photos below.  To think of Steampunk, think Jules Verne meets Mad Max.
   
The Florence Deeble House is another interesting part of the Grassroots Art Center. The internal walls and ceiling of each room are lined with aluminum foil on which are mounted hundreds of dolls like the ones in the three photos below.   
  

Even mundane items and public spaces in Lucas may serve the artistic fervor of residents. Below left is a musical corral with instruments made of pvc pipe and plastic barrels and buckets, not unusual in other cities.  Utility poles serve as, what else, mounting structures for yet more artists' creations. Bucket trucks are necessary here.   
  
Behold two gentlemen of seemingly extraordinary talents.

 

We end this trip to Lucas in a place of quietude; of unruffled repose.  Each KPP member community is a jewel in and of itself with remarkable creations, wonderful spaces, home grown culture, and the most friendly people.  All you need do is abandon the highway for a spell.