Public Sculptures Everywhere in Lincoln
The Lincoln community waits with excitement as the newest public art sculpture is installed in the heart of downtown Lincoln, in the brand new Civic Plaza. The renowned sculptor Jun Kaneko’s sculpture won the bid of $1.15 million, to construct and install the beautiful lighted tower. The 57-foot-tall multicolored glass tower, fabricated in a German factory, will be the centerpiece of the new $3.64-million Civic Plaza at 13th and P streets. The city demolished a 1970s theater to make way for this shiny new plaza with lots of seating and space to just hang around. In spring 2011 the city government solicited artists’ proposals to help design the plaza and create art for the public space. Jun Kaneko’s proposal won.
The Lincoln mayor, Chris Buetler, well known for his love of art, made it clear that he wanted a “significant piece of art” in the new plaza. This piece of sculpture will be one of the main attractions in the city.
Lincoln boasts of more than 100 pieces of public art throughout the city. The pieces of art come in many forms: sculpture, memorials, murals, bronzes and monuments. Here is a list of some of the more popular pieces.
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
The Sheldon Sculpture Gardens, located on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, features 30 distinct sculptures from the early 20th century to the present. These contemporary sculptures, created by artists from across the world, continually intrigue UNL students and staff as well as visitors. The most popular sculptures in the Sheldon Sculpture Garden include Torn Notebook by Claes Oldenberg and Coosje van Bruggen, Old Glory by Mark di Suvero, and Greenpoint by Richard Serra.
For a map of the sculptures and for more information, visit sheldonartmuseum.org. Other sculptures on campus include David Smith’s Superstructure Four, a wonderful stainless steel work; Tony Smith’s Willy; Prismatic Flake by the Alumni Building on R Street; and Variable Wedge, an abstract close to Westbrook Music Building. These are only a few of the sculptures that grace UNL’s campus.
At first glance, a 15-foot-tall earth-toned human head rising out of the ground below Lincoln’s new Union Plaza seems to be just that, a giant human head. But the ceramic sculpture, by New York artist James Tyler, has a deeper meaning—about 200 feet deeper. Groundwater Colossus is the personification of freshwater aquifers that lay hidden beneath the Earth’s surface. Specifically honoring the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking and irrigation water to eight states, the Groundwater Colossus is one of the largest freestanding ceramic sculptures ever created.
This piece was carefully installed by artist James Tyler in mid-August 2012. More than 300 distinct bricks made of red clay were stacked in concentric circles, eventually forming a mostly hollow head. The home of Groundwater Colossus is in Union Plaza in Antelope Valley, near 21st and P Streets. For more information on Groundwater Colossus, visit tylersculpture.com or lincoln.ne.gov/city/parks.
REDWALL is a collection of 383 individual ceramic tiles that nearly covers an entire wall in the Lied Center for Performing Arts’ newly-added Lied Commons. Eddie Dominguez, an associate professor of art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, envisioned the public art project and saw it to fruition. To show that the work represents a community, not a singular artist, individuals who created the tiles remain anonymous. Many of the tiles were created by children and students. Subject matter of each tile ranges from flowers to footballs.
In 2003, the Lincoln Arts Council spearheaded what is considered Lincoln’s first major public art project. Designed to draw attention to Lincoln’s 85-mile trail system, the Tour de Lincoln featured 71 bicycle sculptures located throughout the city’s parks, businesses, private residences, and, of course, bike trails. In October 2003, the bicycles were auctioned as a fundraiser, although many remain in their original locations for permanent display.
Five brightly-colored benches were installed in downtown Lincoln in October 2011 to attract awareness to human trafficking. Advertising students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln developed the project to generate conversation and educate the community about human trafficking in Nebraska and the United States. The benches are located near the intersection of 12th and P streets.
Nineteen artists competed to have their design featured on a bench. The five winning designs were created by Deb Bridges, Amber Konz, Sara Leimbach, Lindsey Weber and Ann Williams. Organizations Slave Free Nebraska and the Lincoln Arts Council helped coordinate the project.
Our Community…Larger than Life
A 15-foot tall photo mural by Lincoln artist Larry Roots covers the skywalk above S. 12th street, between
O and N streets. Featuring individuals of different age, gender and ethnicities, the mural emphasizes Lincoln’s diversity.
On the Trail of Discovery
In 2004 the Friends of the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln commissioned sculptor George Lundeen to create a multi-figure sculpture, On the Trail of Discovery: Commemorating the Journey of Lewis and Clark, 1804-1806. The bronze sculpture features explorers Lewis and Clark, a Native American guide and boy, and a dog. It commemorates a pivotal moment in American history and guides visitors into UNL’s Center for Great Plains Studies.
Appropriately situated near Nebraska Wesleyan University’s fine arts buildings, Calling Away symbolizes the uniting of the fine arts: art, music, and theatre. Calling Away was created by 1950 by sculptor Dan Peragine and is made of blue welded steel.
Bronze sculpture Watchful Citizen portrays a man sitting on one side of a bench with plenty of room for a passer-by to stop and rest next to him. The sculpture in Lincoln’s Haymarket near Lincoln Station (N. 7th and Q streets) provides a popular spot for photo opportunities. Artists Elizabeth Stanley Wallace and William Schlaebitz created the sculpture in 1993.
Located in one of Lincoln’s most popular attractions, the Sunken Gardens, Reveille is a casted metal sculpture created by Dr. Wayne Southwick. Reveille depicts an angle blowing a trumpet and was modeled after the artist’s wife getting their children out of bed.
Bicentennial Cascade Fountain
The Bicentennial Cascade Fountain is a concrete water feature placed near one of Lincoln’s busiest intersections, S. 27th Street and Capitol Parkway. The fountain, created by artist Larry B. Group, is a tribute to teachers and how they influence the youth of Nebraska.
Honoring all pioneer women of Nebraska, sculptor Ellis L. Burman’s Pioneer Woman rests in the Memory Garden at 33rd and Melrose.
Star Art Project
Sixty-nine pieces of star-themed artwork graced Lincoln during 2006. This public art project, which benefitted the Lincoln YWCA and each work’s artist, was made of a wide variety of styles—photographs to sculptures, mosaics to paintings. Each piece of artwork was created with a general theme of star in honor of Lincoln, the Star City.
These are only some of the public sculptures in Lincoln—many more significant works enhance the city, it’s parks and it’s museums.