Art in the Park Sculpture Walk includes 10 new pieces of work
ROCK FALLS -- Looking out over the Rock River is Confluence. It's a bronze sculpture by David Zahn showing the torso, arms and head of a man slightly off-kilter in this off-kilter year.
"It's supposed to be about the way a person's life changes and alters itself," Zahn said. "The base is at an angle and leans forward to kind of show it off-balance, and the person is leaning backward to kind of compensate. It's really a piece about how people are fluid, people are changing and we have to change and go with everything around us and not be rigid."
Confluence and nine other sculptures make up the newest edition of Art in the Park Sculpture Walk, as visitors to Riverfront Park have a chance to take them in. Two of the works are permanent, but the other eight were installed by the artists and crews on Friday.
Rock Falls interim tourism director Melinda Jones said that the Art in the Park sculptures offer a chance to visitors to the park to get a chance to see what these works mean to them.
This is the third year of Art in the Park Sculpture Walk.
"It has grown as far as people are getting to know it is here," Jones said. "People will call the tourism office and ask about it, where it is, how many sculptures, so it's just nice that it's grown to where people from outside the area can enjoy it."
Due to COVID-19, a planned event to kick off the new class of sculptures had to be called off, but something could be rescheduled for the spring. Visitors to the park can download the Otocast app on their smartphones, which will offer people a chance to learn more about each work from the sculptors themselves.
Kristin Garnant created Hydraulic Jump from pieces of thin-gauged steel, which she then bent. It retains its form but is tightly wound, so it will move a bit in the wind off the river and have a bit of a flow to it.
"I usually work with more rigid metals, but in this case I was just exploring the possibilities of using this thinner stuff and seeing how malleable it could be and how much bend I could get out of it," she said. "It's been fun to work with. Each piece is an individual long strip, as if you took a long sheet of 4-by-8 metal and cut it into strips and just start bending them. Then you start putting them all together and creating out of that."
Skip Willits has a pair of pieces, Pods and Red. Red was painted red and looks something like smoke rising. Pods evoke three leaf-shaped pieces of steel standing tall.
"Usually my work kind of evolves in the studio and is very geomorphic for the most part, but it's also very haphazard," he said. "I just build from the ground up. It changes as it goes."
Steel is something Willits naturally gravitated to working with since his father was a shop welder, and taught him how to weld at a young age.
For Zahn, a riverfront is a great place to display Confluence, with its forms that evoke the waves of sea plants.
"This sculpture was in Dubuque for a year and now it's here, so to get to go to different places, people get to see them," Zahn said. "When I go online, it was in South Carolina, I see pictures of people taking selfies of it in South Carolina and there's Spanish moss around it. It's kind of neat that they get to go to different locations."
Michael Young came from Chicago with his piece, Taking Flight made from stainless steel.
"It's meant to represent birds," he said. "There are six suggested bird images swirling off and taking off into the sky."
He has done a few pieces in steel, but works a lot with bronze and aluminium.
This is Young's second time displaying something at the Sculpture Walk in Rock Falls. He said he likes that people will get a chance to see his work in the park.
"I like to have people see it, and people also get to see what they see in it," he said. "Sometimes I make a piece, I have a thought, it's not necessarily set in stone. I like to see what other people see in the piece, what it makes him feel."
With so many different artists showing their work in one place, the artists themselves get a chance to scope out what others have been doing.
"This is a program that happens here in town, but it happens in a lot of different towns, so we get to know one another," Willits said. "We get to see each others' work every year, and that's kind of the exciting part. We all show up, usually the same day, and we get to see what they've been working on throughout the year."
The pieces will be on display in the park until September 2021 when a new class of works comes in.