The Sioux Falls sculpture walk combines art and democracy. From May to September, art admirers can stroll through downtown, compare the work of sculptors from around the country, then vote for their favorite. The city's ninth annual sculpture walk was in 2012.
Judges choose about 70 to 80 sculptures each year. Selected artists deliver their sculptures in the spring, loaning them to Sioux Falls for the year. Local businesses sponsor the sculptures, which are displayed on pedestals made of local pink quartzite or on concrete pads. Artists gain exposure, Sioux Falls gets a great attraction and citizens enjoy the art.
Between directors’ awards, best of show and people’s choice, artists garner more than a dozen awards. The city buys the people’s choice winner every year for permanent public display in Sioux Falls. Businesses, residents or visitors may also buy sculptures.
People, animals and abstracts were popular themes in 2012. “Grande Finale,” sculpted by Jennifer Canon of California, stood in front of the US Courthouse and depicted an abstract version of fireworks. Voters could choose between many animals, including “Shima,” by sculptor Martha Pettigrew of Nebraska, a giant recreation of a jackrabbit found only on Japanese island of Oshima, “Huckleberry Daze” by Jerry McKellar of Washington, a life-size bronze grizzly bear, and “Implement Bird” by Jacque Frazee of South Dakota, an ostrich made from the rusty gears of old farm implements.
“Implement Bird” caught the eye of Gretchen Newberry, a PhD student in Vermilion, South Dakota, who studies birds. “The legs are so realistic,” she said. “They remind you of the scales on a bird’s leg and how reptilian they really are. Plus the tractor pieces seem like part of South Dakota.”
The 2012 people’s choice award went to Ben Victor of Aberdeen, South Dakota. His bronze sculpture, "Daughters of Peace," shows a little Indian girl and a young pioneer girl sharing dolls. In addition to Sioux Falls purchasing his sculpture, Victor also won $3,000.
While downtown on the sculpture walk, be sure to visit Sioux Falls' many boutiques and cafes. History buffs should take time to read the historic plaques along Phillips Avenue to learn about the troubles between settlers and Indians in the 1860s, the city’s cigar manufacturing boom, and other important parts of Sioux Falls history.