Officials highlighted some of the past and present of downtown Blue Springs this week and offered a glimpse of the future as part of continued efforts to raise the area’s visibility.

As daylight began to fade on a warm fall evening, dozens of people gathered to formally dedicate two high-profile pieces of public art. Also, plans were unveiled for gateways on Main Street at each end of downtown, and the old Chicago & Alton that volunteers have been painstakingly restoring was briefly opened for viewing.

“We are honored to have an artwork that captures the spirit of downtown Blue Springs,” Eleanor Frasier, chair of the Blue Springs Public Art Commission, said Thursday evening, standing next to “Dandeblome” at 10th and Main.

Kansas City artist Jake Balcom fashioned the 15-foot artwork from the metal exterior that for decades covered the America’s Community Bank building nearby.

A couple blocks away is Central Park, site of a community garden and the old depot. “Life Force” stands there. Artist Scot Ferguson says he uses “recycled, upcycled and found materials” – in this case, some of the steel from the city’s old downtown water tower. Whereas the water tower once helped provide a community with clean water, “Life Force” now symbolically waters the garden.

“So history lives on in Blue Springs in the form of this public art,” Mayor Carson Ross said.

Cindy Miller, long active with the group Downtown Alive!, said the artwork is “a huge spark to our downtown,” making it a more attractive and liveable space.