Whenever I go to a different city I always try to find some visual sign of the ARTS. A few weeks ago I was in Topeka, Kansas. I am fairly familiar with Topeka, the amazing mural, sculpture and architectural work at the Capital building. Have met a few of the local artists involved with the Great Mural Project and attended a number of meetings while a Kansas ART Commissioner before our Governor decided that the ARTS aren’t important any more – but we won’t go there. Anyway, I have heard a great deal about the NOTO District, an ART district in an older and less revered area of North Topeka.
Heading north on Kansas from downtown you cross over the river and at the first stop light you have the option of turning right to Little Russia and a visit to Porsbky’s Deli and Tavern or left to the NOTO District. Since it was Saturday I knew Porsbky’s was closed so it was left to the NOTO District. Another left on Kansas takes you into the heart of NOTO. It was around 0800 hrs on Saturday so there wasn’t a lot of street action but there was a popular Cafe, a Flea Market and a Carnival shop preparing for the business day.
There is an old bank that buys jewelry, a trendy sandwich shop and a quirky hand painted sign. A business with an awesome fire escape, and a couple of private studios The surrounding neighborhood has affordable housing, in various states of repair, very old homes with obvious historical importance. A beautiful train station, a city mission and a historic past-not to mention an active railroad line and the free flowing Kansas River. I don’t know if it is everything for everybody but it is a place where some people have decided to make a difference and to proclaim the ARTS as an important part of every community! Give it a look.