Outdoor exhibit celebrates new and returning artists
This summer explore the outdoor art gallery that is Mt. St. Mary Park. Take a stroll along the winding path to witness the artistic diversity of the latest installment of sculptures in the annual Sculptures in the Park exhibit in St. Charles.
In its 14th year, Sculptures in the Park remains a success attracting artists near and far, enhancing the cultural arts experience in St. Charles.
“What began in 2006 as a collaborative effort among civic agencies to raise awareness of the sculptural arts and our beautiful parks is still alive and well today,” said Sabrina Killeen, Park District Supervisor. “We continue to receive submissions from artists across the country as well as local sculptors whose pieces are varied in their style, but the same in prompting delight, discussion and appreciation.”
Killeen said they are particularly excited to have two pieces from renowned artist Seward Johnson, whose works include more than 450 life-size cast bronze figures that have been featured in art galleries, museums and public spaces across the globe including New York City, Washington, D.C., Hong Kong, Paris and Rome.
The California resident will have two pieces in Mt. St. Mary Park. “A Day Off” from his “Celebrating the Familiar” collection brings to life the quintessential pastime of a father and son fishing. The other sculpture, “Monet, Our Visiting Artist” from his “Beyond the Frame” series encourages visitors to interact, and perhaps, snap a selfie in the realistic scene.
“Attracting an artist such as Johnson to display his works speaks volumes to the exhibit’s reputation,” Killeen said.
The outdoor venue itself is a main attraction for many artists as it widens their connection to the public.
“My great hope is that when art is made easily accessible to the general public that it inspires an appreciation or understanding that might not be acquired when displayed in a less public venue,” said Jennifer Meyer, a returning artist from Lansing, IL, and sculptor of the found objects piece, “Love the Breeze in My Hair.”
Chicago sculptor and returning artist Christopher Newman will have his piece, “Square Totem” placed at Baker Community Center this year.
“In essence, Square Totem is having a conversation with the public and the environment,” Newman said. “It dominates its position, however small it is in square feet, because its height speaks loudly to passersby and holds its dimensions and scale proudly next to buildings and trees.”
The sculptures are made from bronze, rusted metal, steel, found objects, scrap metal and more, and may provoke an array of emotions from visitors as varied as the artist’s inspiration for that piece.
Another sculpture, “Totemic Tendencies,” was created from scrap metal from the hands of lifelong St. Charles resident Todd Willing. He’s participated in previous exhibits, most recently with “Roboto Walko” last year.
“I’m honored to have my work displayed in my hometown among the other great artists in this exhibit,” Willing said.
Sculptures in the Park also includes pieces in outdoor locations other than Mt. St. Mary Park. St. Charles parks with permanent sculptures are Baker Memorial Park, Lincoln Park, Pottawatomie Park, Delnor Woods Park and Fox Chase subdivision east entrance area.
Ryan Slavik’s 6-foot steel and wood sculpture, “Gather Round,” is on display this year at the Baker Community Center gardens along Route 31.
“I hope that when people see any of my works they spark some sort of emotion or meaning in them,” said St. Charles resident and returning artist Ryan Slavik. “It doesn’t have to be the meaning and emotion that I, as the artist, intended; if it’s as simple as someone liking them for the way that they look, then that’s great.”
For Slavik, participating in the exhibit is personal. Not only does it allow him to promote the arts in his hometown, it helps him stay connected to his late father, John Slavik, who also was a sculptor with works that were featured multiple times in Sculptures in the Park. “I was, and still am, influenced by his work,” he said.
For more information about this year’s Sculptures in the Park, visit www.stcsculpture.org.