Take a Walk Amid the ART


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An eye-catching set of 18 new sculptures erected in January as part of Palestine’s Main Street Art Tracks project include “Water Lily” by Laura Walters Abrams and “Lone Star Over Texas” by Jan and Kathy (Deano) Dean.

Stuart Whitaker

As the weather warms, local families often flock to parks and playgrounds to enjoy the new season and its change of scenery, and cities like Tyler and Nacogdoches also draw flower-loving crowds with their spring azalea trail activities and events. Year-round, however, outdoor enthusiasts who crave natural settings that also celebrate the creative arts find it easy to indulge that artistic blend in several East Texas venues with noteworthy sculpture gardens. 

Art Tracks

Starting on Spring Street and winding through downtown Palestine, 18 distinctive sculptures created by 11 artists are part of the city’s 2016-17 Main Street Art Tracks exhibit. Hosted by Palestine Main Street and a nonprofit called Palestine Tomorrow, Inc., the Art Tracks trail began in 2010, and the latest batch of sculptures was installed in January after artists submitted their entries in the fall and finalists were selected in November. 

“This show gives everyone — resident or visitor— a chance to enjoy art whether as a driver or a pedestrian,” says Art Tracks founder Jean Mollard. 

The larger-than-life installations are made from metal, mosaic, glass and steel and stay on display through November 2017. The pieces are available for purchase as well, with commissions going back to the Main Street program to help finance improvements in the city. Since the first show, 54 sculptures have enhanced Palestine’s Main Street. Sculpture locations are on public property, and a printed brochure map —available at Palestine Main Street Gallery—guides visitors through the route. 

Sculpture For All

Newly-installed, a fresh set of sculptures comprises the latest edition of Stephen F. Austin State University’s Sculpture For All Outdoor Art Exhibition and Competition, situated at the campus’ arboretum in Nacogdoches — a 10-acre area within the SFA Gardens that connects to the university’s popular azalea trail. On view for 22 months, the earlier group of sculptures graced the campus gardens March 2015-December 2016 and included works by local artists like Dewane Hughes of Tyler, Kurt Dyrhaug of Beaumont and Joe Barrington of Throckmorton, in addition to artists from across the country.

The artistic enterprise was launched in late 2014 by SFA assistant professor for sculpture Jeffery Brewer, an artist who also has a piece titled “Hands on You” on view in Palestine in the Main Street Art Tracks exhibit.  With final selections for the 2017-18 exhibition finalized in February and erected in March, the new Sculpture For All exhibition  stays up through December 2018. 

Containing one of the largest azalea gardens in the nation, the arboretum is a popular destination for families and spring visitors during the Nacogdoches Azalea Trail and Azalea Symposium, and the sculptures enhance the views year-round. Sculpture For All maps are available online at sculptureforall.com.

Beautifying Longview

With a goal of making public art more accessible in Longview, Keep Longview Beautiful continues to develop its Art from the HeART program. It started in 2014 with “Five Children Playing,” an eight-foot bronze sculpture by Max Turner installed at Flewellen Park. The following year, four installations by Longview artist Jeff Hull went up on the Paul Boorman Trail. These included “Vital Signs South” and “Vital Signs North,” two 11-foot tall sculptures of a running man made from recycled city street signs and located on the south and north ends of the trail. At the entrance to the trail, “The Herd at Boorman” consists of 32 vintage bicycles painted neon orange and placed in a herd formation, and a coordinated piece situated near the small dog park features three more bicycles in red, yellow and orange. 

Last year,  a sculpture dubbed “Pine Cones” by Patrick Plourde went up in the new entryway located at Highway 31 and Spur 63. Depicting four-feet tall pine cones, it is made with vintage shovels and located on private property at Vaca & Kirby Dental and Johnson & Pace.

Keep Longview Beautiful officials say three more installations are planned this year — although details are sketchy at this point — and a long-term plan calls for installations at 36 community locations.

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