Created by native Kansas Citian Robert Morris, “Bull Wall” is a tribute to Kansas City’s agricultural heritage and to the American Royal Livestock Horse Show and Rodeo. The work consists of two parallel 120-foot-long steel panels with 15 cutouts each of running bulls.
The work originally included a steam machine and piping that simulated the clouds of dust raised by the running bulls. After problems and rising costs of running the steam arose, a smoke machine and system was installed to simulate the dust. However, declining use and events at Kemper Arena, resulting in much decreased viewership of the sculpture, and concerns about vandalism led to the removal of the steam and smoke systems.
The piece combines solid stability with the large steel panels with the frenzied motion of the bulls. As it weathers and rusts, it becomes an ever-changing monument to Kansas City’s past and the American Royal’s key role in the city’s iconography. However, recent events concerning American Royal and Kemper Arena and what the future holds for them clouds the future of the sculpture as well.
Part of the City of Kansas City’s One Percent for the Arts Program. “Bull Wall” was the inaugural artwork of the program in 1992. It was commissioned at a cost of $265,000, which included the sculpture, the steam system and the brick courtyard on which it sits.