Sculpture program brings works of art to PB parks

Carl Billingsley is seen with his sculpture titled Akimboþ at Ferguson Grove.
Paul Savid ~ Daily American Republic

A new sculpture program is helping bring art into Poplar Bluff parks and outdoor areas.

Four pieces have been placed this spring, with hopes to add more in the future, explained Clark Allen, park director.

The works are provided by the program Sculpture on the Move, a St. Louis-based effort to get people to explore outside their own communities. Poplar Bluff is one of only two outlying towns with artwork in place, in addition to St. Louis area locations.

"We've been thinking about public art and how we could get it into the parks for a while," said Allen.

People are often looking for different things in recreation, he said. For some it is more about athletics, while others enjoy the walking trails and the experience of being out in the parks.

Adding public art brings another piece to the table for the public.

"It becomes part of their recreation and leisure experience," Allen said.

This program allows towns to rent sculptures for up to two years, at a cost of $500 per year. The town can later purchase the work, if it chooses, or rotate the work out with another piece.

There are two pieces by artist Carl Billingsley, "Akimbo" and "Prism/Arc/Yellow Quadrants," located at Ferguson Grove.

Artist Jessie Cargas has one sculpture, "Galaxy," located at Margaret Harwell Art Museum.

Artist Craig Snyder also has one sculpture, "Green Eyed Seeker" located at Nooney Triangle at Main and Nooney streets.

The park department also installed sculptures last year at McLane Park, which were purchased from this program.

Allen would like to continue to add work along the city's trails or other areas.

Program organizers are hopeful this will expand within existing communities and to new towns, according to Kat Douglas, recreation and art specialist with the Sculpture on the Move program.

The effort started because St. Louis County includes more than 80 municipalities, but residents often stick within their own communities.

The goal was to get people to explore outside their communities, she said.

The program is also developing maps and an app that would help visitors locate the sculptures in various areas.

There are 44 sculptures in 17 communities at this time.

This program also helps young artists get more exposure for their work, she said. Many are local, but some come from other states.

"I would love it to expand in any way it can," she said. "We would love for other cities to jump on board."