Sculpture Walk

9 05 2009

One of my favorite things to do in Sioux Falls, SD is go downtown and discover the Sculpture Walk. I discovered it many years ago when my boyfriend first brought me home to meet his family and he enticed me with descriptions of this art collection that is displayed on the sidewalks of downtown Sioux Falls near the historic area. Knowing me and my intense love of most kinds of art, he knew that this would be one of my favorite parts of the trip and would allay my fears of meeting his parents and siblings for the first time.

He was right.

When we got downtown, I was immediately struck by the beauty of their streets, not just because of the art pieces that were set up along the sidewalks but because of the storefronts, the artistic nature of the buildings’ craftmanship and the quaint streets. He showed me the Falls Park, which has cascading waterfalls from the Big Sioux River tumbling through the middle of the park, a hanging bridge that allows you to cross the river just below the Falls and see the water rushing beneath in torrents of water, and the ruins of an old mill that was destroyed by a fire years ago but whose remains have been preserved by the park. This has become a favorite place for my boyfriend and myself because of its peace, beauty, the rushing water and the different events that happen, from the Laser Light Show to the Christmas Lights display at Christmas…year round, we love Falls Park.

The sculptures line the streets from one end of the downtown area to the Falls Park and there are sculptures within the entrance of the park and the park itself that lend a sense of whimsy to the area. I love driving to the park and trying to ignore the sculptures near the road so I can discover them on foot as my boyfriend and I walk along the streets back to the beginning of the downtown area.

The sculptures range from Native American inspired pieces to contemporary music pieces to Nature pieces to historical pieces which recount the area’s history. They are made from metal pieces that have been cast, sculpted, bronzed, shaped, tinted, painted and set up to weather the elements. They can be huge, set up on corners to catch the eye, or they can be small enough to sit on marble pedestals along the sidewalks, brought to eye level for the tourists who flock to see the pieces each year. Some of them are even functional: swings and benches that people can sit on to rest their tired legs which have brought them from far away. It’s always a treat to find the numbered dots on the maps and follow them along the streets, searching out the next one.

For me, these pieces are wonderful…beautifully crafted and worthy of the two and a half hour drive that it takes for me to get here from Mankato to look at them. Each May, a new set of sculptures is set up, and people come anew to look at them, vote on their favorites and take pictures next to them.

Most of the pieces are auctioned off or bought by companies, organizations, institutions or wealthy individuals who acquire the pieces once the Sculpture Walk is complete. The pieces have plates that tell the name of the piece, the artist that created it and the place where the artist is from so the tourists can enjoy some context with their visual delights. It’s truly a great idea and I wish more cities would decorate their towns in this matter and earn some revenue for both the artists and the town in this manner, because it decorates the area, brings in tourists, creates a visually pleasing display and allows artists to be showcased for an entire year.

Oh, to walk those streets and try to interpret the art. It’s wonderful to look at the pieces and try to figure out what they mean, what the artist meant, what they are supposed to represent, but you want them to represent…or just to marvel at what people can do with their hands and their minds.

Check it out: http://www.sculpturewalksiouxfalls.com/

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