Lens-Artists Challenge #249 – Art in the Park (and other places)

Buskers in Old Town Scottsdale.

This week’s challenge features a focus on the arts. Public art in all its forms and locations. Whether in a park or a parking lot, an outdoor theater, or a street corner, art in public places can be found in communities worldwide. In a small park in Scottsdale, Arizona, for example, the buskers in the photo above play their style of music hoping that you will stop long enough to listen for a bit and leave a tip in the basket on the drum in front of them.

Greetings Tour-1
Greetings Postcard mural as it was being painted.

Murals are popular art projects in many cities. The first city I visited that featured murals on building walls was Siler City, North Carolina. Over the years, my hometown of Fargo started encouraging artists by decorating building walls with poster art. A traveling team of artists brought their Greetings Tour to Fargo for one week. They traveled in a motor home, parked it near their project, and spent their days creating a Greetings mural for host cities around the country.

Utility box art-1
Utility box.

Another public art form I first saw in North Carolina was a collection of large utility boxes. There were a couple of taller, narrow boxes and behind them a larger box. Someone painted the two taller boxes to look like gas pumps, and the larger box behind was painted to look like a filling station. The concept that utility boxes could be something prettier than dull gray or drab green has completely changed in Fargo. A community of artists was organized and committed to creating art on the many city utility boxes in our downtown area.

First Lutheran Bench
Homeless Jesus.

Timothy Schmalz, an artist who lives and works in Toronto, Canada created a sculpture of a homeless person sleeping on a bench. Careful observation of the sculpture will shed light upon the person’s identity. The nail holes in the feet are the telltale sign that the sleeping person is Jesus. The first cast of the work was installed in 2013 in front of the University of Toronto’s Regis College. His “Homeless Jesus” can now be found in various locations worldwide, including this one in front of the First Lutheran Church in Fargo, North Dakota. On our recent visit to Rio de Janeiro Brazil, we saw “Homeless Jesus” near the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Black Hills Journey-4
Fighting Stallions.

Probably the most dynamic piece of public art in this challenge collection is the sculpture “Fighting Stallions” created by Korczak Ziolkowski, the sculptor who began work on the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1948. This work is a powerful tribute to the strength and spirit of the horse, an animal that played a central role in the lives and culture of many Native American tribes.

Train art-1
Train car art project in downtown Fargo.

Near the original Fargo Train Depot, two rail cars sit on a siding, their sides emblazoned with murals focusing on the city of Fargo and North Dakota State University. The project was initiated in 2015 by the Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists (FMVA) organization. The FMVA collaborated with the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Society, the Fargo Park District, and the City of Fargo to transform a set of old train cars into public art. Completed in 2017, The train car art project has become a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike, and it has helped revitalize the area around the original Fargo Depot.

The Tin Family
The Tin Family.

The Enchanted Highway is a 32-mile (51 km) scenic drive located in southwestern North Dakota. The Tin Family is one example from the collection of whimsical giant sculptures that range as high as 60 feet (18 meters) in height. The Enchanted Highway collection, created entirely of scrap metal, includes a giant grasshopper, a group of pheasants taking flight, and a fish leaping out of a pond. One of the most popular sculptures is called “Geese in Flight,” which features a flock of metal geese soaring into the sky.

Human Rights Museum-1
Winnipeg Canada is home to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Finally, the design of buildings and other architecture certainly fits the challenge. One beautiful example is the unique design of the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg, Canada. The building is an impressive feat of modern architecture, featuring several unique design elements that make it stand out. The overall design of the museum is meant to evoke the idea of a mountain, with a curved form rising out of the ground and sloping upwards toward the sky. Tower of Hope, a 320-ft (100 m) tall structure, rises above the main building. Visitors can take an elevator to the top of the tower and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area.

What public art is displayed in your hometown? What interesting pieces of art have you seen and photographed during your travels? I hope by featuring my wide variety of examples that your selection need not be limited to any specific medium or venue. Art is where you find it. Where do you find yours? Your challenge response should include a link to the week’s challenge host.  We can find your post easily in the Reader if it includes the “Lens-Artists” tag. For more information on joining the challenge, click here.

I’ve posted HD images on my Flickr site and included a few other examples there, as well. You can see the entire gallery here. Next week, it’s Amy’s turn to host the Lens-Artists Challenge. Look for her challenge post on Saturday at noon EST.

John Steiner


  1. Gorgeous art, varied and colourful. I know I have seen the Homeless Jesus somewhere, but don’t remember where. I think it is very beautifully made. But another magical one is the Fighting Stallions – splendid. I’ll see what i can find…

  2. You showed a great variety of two-dimensional and three-dimensional art, John! I liked the fighting stallions sculpture and the interesting architecture of the Canadian museum. Cool!

  3. […] Sisyphus at the Sculpture Park in Silkeborg, Denmark. It is a huge rolling stone sculpture that is periodically hauled up the hill. The sculpture bears a resemblance to a certain orange tyrant, and somewhere, someone must take on the Sisyphean task of getting the stone to roll uphill instead of perpetually downhill as is its wont. Artistic fountain in the gardens of Castelo Branco in Portugal.There is public art everywhere in Mexico. This fanciful fountain of a swimming figure is by Bustamente, in Tlaquepaque, just outside of Guadalajara. A sculpture of two chairs facing each other looking over an empty turtle shell with a circle of inscribed turtle eggs in Lumpini Park in Bangkok, Thailand. I’m sure there’s a story about this but I can’t find it anywhere. Oddball sculpture of styrofoam balls tied up in black pantyhose on a piece of wasteland is in Islita in Costa Rica, where the entire village is a piece of art.A Picasso sculpture in the central courtyard at the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art in Madrid, Spain. One small section of Jean Dubuffet’s huge sculpture in the Kroller Muller Sculpture Garden near Utrecht in Holland. An elephant sculpture, part of the ‘turning weapons into art’ program in Siem Reap, Cambodia.A giant seed carved out of wood at the South Stacks Park near Holyhead, Wales.Mossy sculpture of the three ‘no evil’ monkeys in the Singapore Botanical Garden.The Irish love stacking stones which has resulted in a lot of stacked stone art. These are part of a collection of stacked stone sculptures in the public garden that runs along the river in Sneem, Ireland.In Japan the gardens and parks are pieces of artworks themselves, and apart from the exquisite detailing and occasional Buddhas and dragons, have little in the way of artwork. One exception was raked sand garden with glass rods in  a reflecting pool at Hokanji Temple, one of the lesser known temples in Kyoto, Japan. Van Dusen Gardens in Vancouver often has temporary displays of the work of many sculptors from around the world; these totem poles are part of their permanent ‘sculptures’ in the garden. More on murals and the wide variety of public art out there at Johnbo’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Art in the Park (and other Places). […]

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