Return of Sculpture in the Park brings new, fun art to explore
It’s time to stroll among the sculptures and explore art creations with the return of the annual Sculpture in the Park at Mt. St. Mary Park in St. Charles.
This summer marks the 17th year for the annual outdoor art exhibit that features unique pieces displayed along the park’s main walking path. Artists from around the country and as well as a few from the Tri-Cities have pieces on display through the end of September.
From the visitors who stumble upon the exhibit on a visit to the park to those who make a special visit to the park to see the limited-time display will find new, innovative and even playful pieces to enjoy as they stroll the community park.
“Kids love this exhibit as much as adults. There is something for everyone,” said Erika Young, the public relations and marketing manager for St. Charles Park District.
This year’s exhibit has plenty to please the eye with sculptures made of varying sizes, materials and even a sculpture that allows visitors to make a little music. What appears to resemble a merry-go-round of playgrounds in the past is an interactive musical sculpture made by young artist Isaac Kidder of Minnesota. The piece is titled, Variations on a Circle of Fifths, and it a piece that reflects Kiddder’s love to create art and passion for healing through music.
Kidder has been creating sculptures and woodworking since he was a child and in college at St. Olaf in Minnesota he took a class in metal sculpting and discovered a love for the medium. Sculpting is more than a vision for a piece, requiring skills to weld as well as a large studio space to create each piece.
Kidder said the piece on display at Mt. St. Mary Park is the fourth version of the piece he has created, having evolved the piece of art with each version to make it stronger and better able to withstand the interactions with the public.
“I’ve tried to upgrade it with each version, making it more user friendly and more durable,” Kidder said.
While some art is meant to be seen and not touched, Kidder was excited to visit St. Charles and see visitors interacting with his piece. He explained the mallets ensure the player is striking the best point to create the musical note, with hidden references to keys on a piano and selecting the color of the tones to correspond with the colors of sound.
While someone with musical knowledge will be intrigued to peel back the layers of art to see the hidden aspects, many of the younger visitors will simply enjoy trying to make a little music, comparing the piece to a xylophone.
“Everyone can explore the piece and see what you can figure out,” Kidder said.
Kidder has a second piece in the sculpture show, Inner Peace, which plays with metal shaped into crescent moons that also create a peace sign, Kidder said. At 33, Kidder said being a part of public shows like Sculpture in the Park is great way to meet people, explore new communities and make connections. And it’s a chance for more people to see his piece and explore its meaning.
This year’s exhibit invites visitors to imagine, play and admire the work of several artists, including artists local to the Kane County area, as well as international artists, including the work of Seward Johnson and his piece Far Out. Park visitors will find it a challenge to restrain their hands from reaching out to touch the statue of a man deep in thought, with the textures and appearance that are quite lifelike. Johnson’s sculptures have been a part of the annual exhibit in years past and there’s a buzz to have the international artist’s work in the park for the summer, Young said.
The annual outdoor exhibit started with a donation in 2005 from a local artist, Young explained. The large bronze turtle in Mt. St. Mary Park, near the Fox River, was created and donated from John Kobald and his family as a gift to honor his father, Ray Kobald, a local artist. The piece inspired the idea of creating a rotating outdoor exhibit and in 2006 the first year of Sculpture in the Park was launched in Mt. St. Mary Park.
It is a juried show, where artists apply to participate and a jury reviews the pieces and awards an honor and small monetary award to the selected piece. The award for 2023 was given to artist Charles Yost of Chicago for his piece titled Apparition Indecision, created with steel and powder coat paint.
While Sculpture in the Park features a rotating exhibit of pieces during the summer, the park district has acquired several permanent pieces through artist and benefactor donations as well as purchases, Young explained. The piece Mr. Eggwards, which many visitors refer to as “Humpty Dumpty” looks out on the visitors driving past Mt. St. Mary Park while a smaller version of the sculpture titled, Sheldon “Shelly” Eggwards, greets visitors at nearby Pottawatomie Park.
The website stcsculpture.org provides photos and details of where to find pieces of the permanent exhibit as well as information on each year’s rotating exhibit. The exhibit is on display through September.