October 1, 2017 – expansion of Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden was dedicated

Photo by Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau

On Sunday, October 1, 2017, the expansion of the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden was dedicated.

The expansion more than doubled the area of the garden.  It also allowed for larger sculptures to be installed.

The construction took nearly a year. The design for the garden and the landscaping have all been done by the Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department.

A dozen new sculptures were part of the expansion, which brought the total to 66 pieces by 48 different artists.  (More have been added in the past two years.)

The Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden was originally dedicated in 2009 at Riverfront Park.

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Clinton Park Bridge and Bill Clark Wetlands dedicated on September 30, 2011

On a very warm Friday, September 30, 2011, the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge was dedicated.  This completed the eastern loop of the Arkansas River Trail as well as created another feature in Clinton Presidential Park.

The ceremony featured remarks by both President Bill Clinton and the incumbent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Chelsea Clinton also took part in the ceremony.  Former US Senators (and Arkansas Governors) Dale Bumpers and David Pryor were in attendance as was Jim Guy Tucker who followed Clinton into the Arkansas Governor’s Office.  Current Governor Mike Beebe was also present and took part in the ceremony, which was emceed by Stephanie Streett, executive director of the Clinton Foundation.  Many other former and current elected officials were present.

In addition to dedicating the bridge, the ceremony officially dedicated the William E. “Bill” Clark Presidential Wetlands which are adjacent to the bridge.  City Director Dean Kumpuris joined Clark’s widow, Margaret, and son, William, in the dedication of the wetlands.

This Clinton Presidential Park Bridge is over 2,600 ft. long.  It was constructed in 1899 as the Rock Island Bridge.  After the Rock Island stopped using the bridge, the lift span was permanently raised.  It had to stay this was for the Clinton redevelopment.  Therefore a new surface was built that slopingly takes persons from park level up to the span level and back down.

The bridge’s “rusty” structure is complemented by a well-lit 12-18-foot walkway flanked on both sides by silver galvanized steel handrails.

The total investment for this area is over $13.5 million.

Later that weekend, the Clinton Foundation hosted an event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Clinton’s announcement that he was seeking the Presidency.

Looking at five canine sculptures in Little Rock

August 26 is National Dog Day!  To mark this occasion, here are five sculptures found in Little Rock which feature dogs.  Two are in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, one is in the Bill Clark Wetlands, one is at the Little Rock Animal Village, and the newest one is in the Heights roundabout.

Ken Newman’s FOREVER READY was donated in 2009 by the Sculpture at the River Market.   It is sited in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden.  Mr. Newman is a member of the National Sculptors’ Guild.  One of Mr. Newman’s specialties is animals.  Cast in bronze, Forever Ready depicts a Labrador.  Here is Mr. Newman’s artist statement on the piece.

So, ‘Forever Ready’ is that reflection of the breed (hunter, companion and teacher)…Capturing its intense nature with discipline and loyalty, I have set the lab on edge so intense, that if not given the command to go, it will just fall off. But, it is able to maintain balance – wet and ready to go again. The lab’s shadow is cast in the water below, for a I cannot think of a lab without water.

A few yards from Forever Ready, another dog stands inquisitively.  Commissioned in 2010 and unveiled in 2011, Dan Glanz’s BORIS is a likeness of Boris Kumpuris, the dog and companion of Mary and Dr. Dean Kumpuris.

Glanz captures the friendly and inquisitive nature of Boris in this work, which can be found in the Vogel Schwarz sculpture garden. Most weekends Boris can be seen with Dean as the two walk through Riverfront Park and the River Market. Boris explores and inspects the park along with Dean. Each year during the Sculpture at the River Market show, Boris visits with Dean and meets all the sculptors.

The sculpture was donated by longtime Kumpuris family friend Margaret Clark. She and her late husband Bill were two of the earliest supporters of sculpture along the Arkansas River. They donated another piece in honor of their grandchildren. A sculpture in memory of Bill was stands in the wetlands park which bears his name.

The Bill Clark Wetlands is actually the location of the third dog.  It is Chloe, Bill Clark’s faithful hunting dog.  She stands next to Bill in Clay Enoch’s sculpture STEADY.  Dedicated in 2011, it was a tribute to the man who helped build the Clinton Presidential Library.

This tribute to Clark shows Bill and Chloe in an early morning duck hunt scanning the horizon.  It is also positioned so that Bill is also gazing at the Clinton Presidential Center. His firm was the contractor on that building, and he spent thousands of hours walking in the area looking at the building during the construction.

A portion of the ground he trod during construction has been set aside as the Bill Clark Wetlands, and STEADY is placed in the wetlands as a memorial to Bill.

In 2015, the Little Rock Animal Village unveiled Lorri Acott’s WHO RESCUED WHO.  Located at the entrance to the Little Rock Animal Village, it depicts a person and dog looking at each other. They are sharing a bond of respect, admiration and love.

The human figure has Acott’s trademark extended length legs. These represent the ability to overcome obstacles and rise above adversity.  This is even more apt when considering the role that pets can play in our lives, as well as the role humans play in “adopting” rescued pets.

The sculpture is dedicated to the memory of Jack Adcock. It is given by his family, which includes longtime City Director Joan Adcock, their two children, eleven grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Little Rock’s newest canine sculpture is Ken Newman’s Taking Attendance. It is installed in the new roundabout at Kavanaugh and McKinley.

In discussing the sculpture, Newman says:

The forms, shapes and gestures of my sculptures are expressions of external and internal influences, and influences not necessarily from models or photographs. This sculpture signifies the moments when I have encouraged my dog to walk in front of me unleashed, as it fosters confidence in our relationship.

A Decade of the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden

Wayne Salge’s SIZZLING SISTERS, one of the original sculptures installed in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden

On June 25, 2009, members of the Sculpture at the River Market committee and City leaders broke ground on the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden in Riverfront Park.

The groundbreaking followed an unveiling of the design plans for the new sculpture garden, which will be located east of the Peabody Hotel near the Forever a Rose garden and the Jack Fleischauer Garden.

“As part of the continuing improvements to Riverfront Park, we wanted to put more sculpture into the park to complement the new gardens, Peabody Park, and the upcoming La Petite Roche plaza,” said City Director Dean Kumpuris. “At the 2008 Sculpture at the River Market, six pieces were bought through proceeds from the show and sale to be placed in the park in 2009.”

According to Kumpuris, seven new pieces will join a dozen other sculptures in the park and along President Clinton Avenue that have been installed since 2004.

The sculpture garden features natural terraces and walkways. The design creates a space to host receptions, weddings or other events as well as to allow visitors to enjoy the sculptures in solitude.

The seven pieces which will be installed are “Full of Himself” by Jan Woods, “Cascade” by Chapel, “Bateleur Eagle” by Pete Zaluzec, “Sizzling Sister” by Wayne Salge, “Conversation with Myself” by Lorri Acott,  “First Glance” by Denny Haskew, and “Straight and Narrow” by Lisa Gordon.

“This is only the start,” said Sculpture at the River Market Chair Jane Rogers. “In addition to continuing to place sculpture in Riverfront Park, the committee is discussing ways to place public art throughout the city. In the months to come, we hope to be able to make some more announcements about sculpture and public art in Little Rock.”

The sculpture garden is made possible through the support of the Vogel Schwartz Foundation. Robert Vogel represented the family during the ground-breaking ceremony commending the city of Little Rock on their efforts to support the art community.

Happy Father’s Day (with a sculptural flair)

Today is Father’s Day.   Little Rock has at least five sculptures which reflect the theme of the day.

In Riverfront Park, Jane DeDecker’s THE TIES THAT BIND shows a father helping his son tie his shoes.  It was installed in tribute to longtime Little Rock KATV executive Dale Nicholson.  He had been an active supporter of Sculpture at the River Market.  It is placed near another sculpture by Jane DeDecker, which Nicholson had selected as a memorial to his wife.

Not far from THE TIES THAT BIND is Kevin Kresse’s BREAKING THE CYCLE.  Installed in 2013, it shows a son pushing his father in a wheelbarrow.  At the time of the dedication, Kresse commented the piece is meant to show a father and son who have decided to “switch things up” for a new perspective on life.  Kresse and his son were the models for the piece.

One of the first sculptures placed in Riverfront Park in 2004 was DeDecker’s ANGLERS. It shows a grandfather and granddaughter going off to fish.  This sculpture is located near the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center.

The sculpture was dedicated in November 2004 a few days before the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center.  it was selected, in part, because it paid tribute to the natural habitat of the area.  Since the sculpture was installed, not only has the Nature Center opened, but the Bill Clark Presidential Park Wetlands were created.

Near the Marriott Hotel, in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, is C. T. Whitehouse’s HUDSON’S VOYAGE.  This sculpture is a tribute to his father.

Located near the Arkansas River, it reflects not only the boats and barges which travel by it daily, but is also symbolic of Whitehouse’s father’s service in the Navy and the possibilities that opened up for him.

Lastly, Tim Cherry’s RABBIT REACH is located near the Museum of Discovery.  The sculpture is a gift from Whitlow Wyatt and the Carey Cox Wyatt Charitable Foundation. It was given in memory of George Wyatt and Frank Kumpuris.  Those two gentlemen were the fathers of Whitlow Wyatt and Dean & Drew Kumpuris.

3 Finalists for 2019 Sculpture at the River Market public monument competition; winner to be announced this afternoon

The winner of a $60,000 commission to place a sculpture at Little Rock City Hall in 2020 will be announced on Sunday, May 5, 2019, as the 11th Sculpture at the River Market Show and Sale concludes.

The three semifinalists for the 2019 Sculpture at the River Market Public Monument Competition were announced Friday night at the conclusion of Sculptacular, the preview party for the 2019 Sculpture at the River Market Show and Sale. The three finalists are, alphabetical order:

  • Theresa Dyer – LITTLE ROCK
  • Nnamdi Okonkwo – UNITY
  • Charles Strain – THE GATHERING

Sculpture at the River Market invited all artists participating in the 2019 Show & Sale to submit a proposal for its $60,000 Public Monument Competition. This is the ninth such competition.

The proposals of the seven semifinalists were displayed during Sculptacular, the event’s preview party on the evening of May 3, and Preview Party guests voted for their 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice.  All votes were tallied and the top three finalists were announced at the end of the evening.

The top three proposals will be juried on May 4 and 5, and the 2019 winner will be announced at 3PM on Sunday, May 5.  The winning sculpture will be installed at the northwest corner of Markham Street and Broadway Street adjacent to Little Rock City Hall in the spring of 2020.

The other semifinalists were: Clay Enoch, Joe Norman, Ryan T. Schmidt, and Basil Barrington Watson.

Previous Public Monument Competition winners have been:

  • 2011 – Chapel, THE CENTER installed in Riverfront Park near the Junction Bridge
  • 2012 – Bryan Massey, Sr.,  NAUTILUS installed in Riverfront Park next to the Arkansas River near the Margaret Clark Adventure Park.
  • 2013 – Ted Schaal, OPEN WINDOW installed in Riverfront Park between the First Security Amphitheatre and La Petite Roche Plaza.
  • 2014 – Lorri Acott, PEACE installed at 2nd Street and Main Street
  • 2015 – Michael Warrick, MOCKINGBIRD TREE installed at Chenal Parkway and Chenal Valley Drive
  • 2016 – Clay Enoch, UNITED installed at Central High School
  • 2017 – Stephen Shachtman, ARKANSAS “A” installed at the Southwest Community Center
  • 2018 – Carol Gold, INFINITE DANCE installed in Riverfront Park near the Broadway Bridge

More information is available on the web at http://sculptureattherivermarket.com/.