Project Helanthis taking root at Sunflower Theater

PEABODY – Peabody’s Sunflower Theater was recently awarded a $9,200 grant from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission. The grant will partially cover the costs of muralist Stan Herd to create an art piece for the Sunflower Theater. 

Over Memorial Day Weekend, the theater will have two opportunities for residents to tour the theater and see the improvements that have been made and the restoration work to be done.  

The theater will be open to residents Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Monday from noon until 2 p.m. Marilyn Jones will be at the theater giving away sunflower seeds in honor of the theater and in recognition of 2021 as The Year of the Sunflower. Herd, the muralist working on the project, may also be available to chat with community members interested in the mural project. 

In addition to sneak peeks inside the building, on Monday, choreographer Cheyla Clawson will present Memories in Motion, a community-wide dance project. Old bowling equipment will be on the auction block, along with decorated bowling balls in the silent auction. 

Planters – both free and for purchase – will be available to plant Jones’ sunflower seeds. 

It’s fantastic. Stan Herd is a really well-known artist, and he’s done a considerable part of this as a donation. With the ordinary cost, there is no way we could afford his talent,” said Mayo. 

Mayo added, Herd will be purposeful about including community vision and voices in the project. 

A portion of the mural will be designed by the community, part of the sunflower theme is an ode to the theater, and the Year of the Sunflower,” she said. 

Named Project Helanthis, the art piece would continue to develop the  theme of sunflowers by creating a 3-panel mural on the Sunflower Theatre. The top panel would have the title “Project Healanthis” in art deco style to honor the original decor of the historic theatre, the middle panel would depict sunflowers, with a nod to the artist, Vincent Van Gogh, and the bottom would be designed with community input on subject matter and design.

This project would be in conjunction with the business next door, The HUB, a non-profit organization that provides a safe and drug-free place for teens to socialize, play games, and interact with positive adults. 

The back area is already plastered, so the Historical Society is good with us using that as the perfect place. And, it offers many levels of community engagement,” as Herd will be working with six community members to create the mural. 

Mayo said, however, before the mural can begin, there is a great deal of plasterwork that needs repaired to create a long-lasting surface for the art. Mayo said about $7,000 is needed to prepare the space. 

We have a pretty strong deadline. In July we are going to start the formal process of community engagement for the gathering of information. Stan is going to start working on the mural in August through September, we have to have the walls plastered and the funds rased by late July or early August,” said Mayo. 

The mural will officially be presented to the public during Peabody’s annual Fall Festival on October 2. The Sunflower Theatre is also presenting “Memories in Motion,” a dance performance with original choreography and music based on memories of the Peabody community that day and the opening will be in conjunction with the performance. 

We are going to start kicking off a capital campaign to raise money, and start a fund for matching grant funds,” she said. 

The financial needs of the restoration of the Sunflower Theater are significant, including $18,000 for a matching funds account for the potential to earn a $100,000 grant for historic preservation. The matching funds must be in place by November, when the application period for the preservation grant closes. 

If someone wants to come in and fund new windows in the front, we need new plate glass windows. We are working with an engineer – who is an alumni from Peabody High – a structural engineer to diagram and outline how the process will go forward. We are getting rared up and organized,” said Mayo.


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