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It was the start of a new journey at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home as officials from the university and the City of Mountain Home unveiled the first art pieces for the campus’s Art Walk program.
The abstract art piece, which was created by Patrick Shannon of Forest Edge Gallery of Minnesota, was placed along ASUMH’s walking trail at the corner of the Sheid-Hopper Bypass and College Street. The statue rests right at the trail extension that will connect ASUMH’s campus to McCabe Park.
The joint project between the City of Mountain Home and ASUMH was funded by an anonymous donor who worked with the artist and school officials to plan out the vision for the Art Walk.
ASUMH Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Robin Myers was in attendance to support the project he helped kick-start several years ago.
“The importance of the arts in our community cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Bentley Wallace, ASUMH Chancellor. “The opportunity for economic development, the opportunity for fitness when we couple art and education, and this beautiful space. Fitness. Mental health. All of those things are an opportunity when we come together as a community and develop plans around installations that bring our people, and people from afar, to see what we have to offer in Mountain Home.”
The ASUMH/City of Mountain Home Art Walk got its start under the leadership of Dr. Myers and ASUMH Director of Development Mollie Morgan several years ago. The City of Mountain Home later joined the project to help assist ASUMH in obtaining an Arkansas Department of Transportation grant which will be used to install solar lights along the campus’s walking trails and art fixtures.
A committee headed by Dr. Kathy Loyd was also formed to help further develop the joint Art Walk project.
“It was very obvious that the donor for this first piece had a vision of what they wanted to create out here,” said Mountain Home Mayor Hillrey Adams. “My reaction was, why stand in their way? Let it happen. If they can find a way to make it happen, it will happen. Stand out of the way and let them go. And today, we’ll be ready, with Dr. Wallace, to unveil that. It’s just another project that’s going to bring people here to Mountain Home and when they’re here, give them something else to do.”
As plans for the Art Walk continued to develop, an anonymous donor stepped forward to provide funding for the first sculpture to be installed along the three-mile recreational trail that stretches across the ASUMH and Donald W. Reynolds Library campuses.
The trail’s upcoming extension, which will connect McCabe Park trail through a walking path underneath the Sheid-Hopper Bypass, is expected to be open to the public next week.
While working with the donor, Patrick Shannon of Forest Edge Gallery in Minnesota was chosen as the first artist to install a sculpture along the trail. Shannon is a well-known artist up north who works alongside jewelry maker Helena Johnson. Together, their gallery features artwork including metalwork, paintings, pottery, fused and hand-blown glass, jewelry, sculpture and more from artists across the United States.
“I am deeply honored to have the first sculpture on the walking trail in Mountain Home near the ASUMH campus,” said Patrick Shannon in a statement about the unveiling. “It was a great pleasure to work with the donor and committee on this project. Having a piece of my artwork along a nature trail is a gift to me, as being in nature every day has always been a part of my life.”
With the first statue unveiled, ASUMH and the City of Mountain Home will turn to their next Art Walk unveiling, which will include 20 sculptures from East Coast artist Dale Rogers. Rogers is a full-time metal sculptor from Massachusetts.
He designs both large-scale sculptures for private collectors and temporary public exhibits. The artist describes his work as “abstract geometrics” with much of his work incorporating iconic and whimsical shapes.
Dr. Wallace said residents will have the ability to vote for their favorite temporary statue during their stay on campus, with donors purchasing the winner on behalf of the city at the end of the temporary exhibit. Botanical gardens will also begin to be developed alongside each statue along the Art Walk trail.
Wallace also said that the Art Walk would begin opening up to local and international artists as time goes on.
Rogers’s exhibit is expected to be unveiled next Spring.