News Column

Sculpture Walk highlights art Downtown

June 13, 2014

By Andrew Gaug, St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.

June 13--A turtle, an eagle, waves, monoliths, nudity -- what more could you want for outdoor art?

The St. Joseph Sculpture Walk unveils pieces from different artists to be displayed throughout Downtown St. Joseph for the next year.

Presented by the Allied Arts Council, the walking tour, an exhibit of 14 different sculptures, kicks off from 5 to 7 p.m.June 13 at the Paradox Theatre, 107 N. Sixth St.

In the works for seven years, the Sculpture Walk began as an idea by Allied Arts Executive Director Teresa Fankhauser after she visited Sioux Falls, S.D.

"The city reminded me a lot of St. Joe. It had the same kind of vibe to it, but their downtown, one of the things that stood out was they had sculptures throughout the downtown area," she says.

The installed pieces of art added personality to the area as well as broke up the monotony of empty space and brought in a sense of pride the city had in its art scene.

"I thought 'Gosh, wouldn't that be great if we could do that in St. Joe?'" Fankhauser says.

When Allied Arts Council set up its strategic plan two years ago, the Sculpture Walk was a big goal to meet in the future. As sculptures were set up during the past two weeks, it's become a realized success.

"The goal is to create public art that highlights artists from all over the country," Fankhauser says. "It took awhile to get the process together, so we're very excited that it's now happening."

Sending out a call to artists to submit their sculpture ideas last fall, the Allied Arts Council was excited by the response.

Chosen by a committee of business owners and city personnel, the submissions range from local, such as the robotic-looking scrap metal sculpture "BOB" from St. Joseph School District students William Small and Eli Rhea, to the turtle "Poco a Poco Se Va Lejos" from artist Pokey Park in Tuscon, Ariz. It's a diverse mixture of styles and cultures.

"The quality of the work was really exceptional and it made it very difficult for the committee to select which ones to bring in this year because there were so many good choices," Fankhauser says.

One of the more controversial statues, "Nike" by St. Louis artist Gary Mitchell, simply portrays the Greek goddess' nude body. Not meaning to create any type of uproar, Mitchell says it's simply a statement of art like what is displayed in many museums.

"The body is to remind people of themselves ... the wings that their spirit is out there," he says. "People who don't understand nude bodies should see that historically, it represents ideals and beauty ... It's not some type of pornography."

The sculpture took Mitchell a while to create, from designing the smaller models to craft the design of his sculpture to the several weeks it took to form the aluminum sheets that make up "Nike" into the right shapes.

"A lot of my work is trying to figure out what to make with sheet metal. I'm a little bit limited because it's more difficult to do arms and legs, stuff like that. That explains the truncated look of it," he says.

The addition of more art to Downtown St. Joseph, or any downtown for that matter, is an important one, Mitchell says.

"It's more important than ever that they have stuff for people to look at because a lot of people don't go to museums anymore," he says. "I'm very happy that there's stuff for people to see so they can be delighted in some way and also informed about the history of art."

Tickets for the Sculpture Walk reception are $25 and include appetizers provided by Luna's Fine Dining and Catering, with a cash bar. To RSVP, call 233-0231, or purchase your tickets online at

Andrew Gaug can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPGaug.

Andrew Gaug can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPGaug.


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Source: St. Joseph News-Press (MO)

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