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ON THE SQUARE: “Gorgonia” brightens up the Heer’s.
ON THE SQUARE: “Gorgonia” brightens up the Heer’s.

Opinion: Public art advancing in center city

Posted online
Some cities do public art sculptures well. In most cases, big cities equal big art.

However, a business trip to Des Moines, Iowa, last year proved to me the size of a city doesn’t dictate the size of its art. Des Moines’ 4.4-acre Pappajohn Sculpture Park rivals any metropolitan art space in the country.

I can now say Springfield is farther along on that path.

For the second year, private funding merged with arts and community organizations to deliver the Sculpture Walk in downtown Springfield. The presenting sponsor is again the McQueary family and a long list of companies and individuals followed suit. Corporate sponsors include Conco Cos., U.S. Bank and Ridewell Suspensions. The community groups involved are those you might expect: Springfield Regional Arts Council, Community Foundation of the Ozarks and Springfield Art Museum.

The vision and the resources come together for 22 art sculptures placed between Walnut and Mill streets and from Kimbrough to Grant avenues. That’s up from 14 in last year’s Sculpture Walk. I think there’s only one repeat.

In late June, Springfield Business Journal staff attended a business journal conference in Dallas. Oaf course, my eyes were peering for the public art. It’s there, but scattered. Not in the way of knocking your socks off, either, but a couple pieces are worth scouting: 1. The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial – it’s history, humanity, aesthetics and solitude all wrapped up into one. 2. “Eye” – it’s a 30-foot eyeball sculpture in downtown Dallas; enough said.

I found what I was looking for in these two, but there just wasn’t much else. In fact, I’ve since learned our host publication, D Magazine, published an article several years ago titled, “Why Isn’t Dallas’ Public Art Any Good?” It’s a work in progress.

So is Springfield’s, and we should take note.

After my trip to Des Moines, I wrote a column calling for bolder and bigger public art. We haven’t seen expanded greenspace since The Commons in Jordan Valley Park, but we do have more sculptures. And that’s refreshing.

Come downtown. Take a stroll, and take in the quality designs from artists like Ben Pierce, Larry Young, Craig Snyder and Jacob Burmood.

“Xuberant!” on Park Central Square and “Maestro” and “Eggcited” a half-block north will just make you smile. “Sunflowers” across from SBJ’s office and “Depth of Form” outside the new bus terminal are contemplative pieces, while “Natural Balance” and “Windy Tower” incorporate outdoor elements.

Take a look for yourself at the city’s new look.

Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson can be reached at


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