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Bowl Plaza part restroom, part tourist attraction
new deh lucas bowl mosaic
Rosslyn Schultz works on one of the mosaics for the Lucas Bowl Plaza project. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

ant to help?

Donations and other help for the Lucas Bowl Plaza project are still being accepted. For more information, contact the Lucas Chamber of Commerce at 785-525-6288.

LUCAS – This may sound like a strange thing to say about a public restroom, but here it goes.

"It will definitely be worth driving off of the interstate to see."

That’s how Rosslyn Schultz, director of the Grassroots Arts Center in Lucas, describes the on-going Bowl Plaza project in this small, artsy Russell County community. When completed, it will feature mosaic-laden walls in and on a toilet tank-shaped building with a toilet-seat-shaped seating area extending out in the front.

"It’s eccentric," Schultz said of the effort. "But, people (in Lucas) are starting to think that’s normal."

But, no matter how cool the plaza is, "we are coming to the end of our funding," Schultz said. The estimated cost is $43,000. There is no deadline to complete the facilities, but they hope to have the inside ready by fall.

"We’re going to auction off the first flush sometime in 2011," Schultz said. In addition to the actual, physical flush, they will sell rights to a "virtual flush."

Why a bathroom? More importantly, why a bathroom/art installation?

"We have a lot of tourists," Schultz said. Now, these weary travelers must find bladder relief wherever they can. "We needed public restrooms."

So, with Lucas being the state epicenter for quirky, folk art, the idea flourished and evolved into something much bigger that a couple port-a-potties. "We have this (art) all over town," she said.

They applied for and got an Arts in Communities Grant through the Kansas Arts Commission. But that only went so far. They’ve applied for other grants, but they are not flush with cash and are still about $10,000 short.

A host of local artists and artisans, along with an army of volunteers of all ages, are making sure the idea doesn’t swirl away down the drain. "They’re pretty amazing," Schultz said.

The Kohler Company Foundation donated the plumbing fixtures. There have also been other monetary, material and in-kind contributions. The City of Lucas has even kicked in some money.

The mosaics feature ground shards of broken glass, china, ceramic items and cologne bottles. There are also old license plates, hub caps, dishes and cups, pottery, reflectors and mirrors. These have to be sorted by color and washed, and the sharp edges removed.

These and the other bits and pieces of the project are scattered in garages, workshops and art studios all over this town of about 430 people.

The men’s room will feature an automotive theme and the women’s room will have a more feminine look. In the center of the outdoor seating will be a relief sculpture with items that are accidentally flushed down a toilet – cell phones, small animals, watches, pocket knives and Super Bowl tickets.