Art to Peoria

Michelle Lanning’s ‘Here and There,’ shown at the Wandell Sculpture Garden at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana, will be unveiled Friday as the first piece at the new Donovan Sculpture Garden in Peoria.

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URBANA — As part of a rotating art-in-the-park exhibit, a sculpture in Meadowbrook Park is set to be loaned to a new sculpture garden in Peoria.

Michelle Lanning’s appropriately named “Here and There” will be the first added to the Donovan Park Sculpture Garden in Peoria. Volunteer coordinator David Pittman said five more will be added this year with a goal of adding three more in each of the next two years.

Lanning’s sculpture has been on display in the Wandell Sculpture Garden at Meadowbrook.

Pittman called the new Peoria park “sort of an outdoor art gallery.” The sculptures will be on display on a rotating basis.

“We intend every year to change out the sculptures, much like what happens at Wandell,” Pittman said.

He said work on the Peoria sculpture garden, which is on the site of a former golf course, began in 2019 and included members of his team taking a bus trip to Urbana and meeting with Urbana Park District Executive Director Tim Bartlett.

“We began about 18 months ago, talking about it and looking at the Wandell Sculpture Garden ... as a perfect example of what we someday would like to grow up to be,” Pittman said.

They also had to get permission from the Peoria Park Board to establish the sculpture garden.

The unveiling of Donovan Park’s first sculpture is set for 2:30 p.m. Friday. Urbana Park District representatives will be among those on hand. Pittman estimates 50 to 75 people will be present, including the mayors of Peoria and Peoria Heights.

He said the project is a good example of how working as a group can accomplish a goal.

“Even with COVID, we’ve been able to find a way to make this happen because the private community and various organizations have found we can do stuff if we work together,” Pittman said.

The work is being done at no cost to taxpayers. Transportation, installation and maintenance have all been donated.

Bartlett said “Here and There” has been on display much longer than the original agreement. Under those terms, the park district pays artists a $2,000 stipend to have a sculpture displayed for two years, with $500 kept in escrow to pay for removing it and “to motivate artists to collect their work.”

“If there’s a piece we like and want to extend (the arrangement), we can offer an extension and pay $1,000 for another two years,” Bartlett said. “It’s a way for an artist to get their work out there and shown.”

The Wandell Sculpture Garden has about 30 sculptures.

“We’ve had very strong success with getting high-quality art, getting a lot of good, interesting comments from the public and creating more dialogue about public art,” Bartlett said.

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