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Art exhibit brings 'vibrancy' to newly restored small public park

Pynchon_Plaza_art.jpg
Paul Tuthill
/
WAMC
"Our Presence at Dawn" by Springfield artist Jeffrey Lara is on display in Pynchon Plaza as part of a new exhibit of public art.

Works by local artists picked for Pynchon Plaza

A new public art display has opened in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts.

The works of eight local artists consisting of sculptures, mosaics, murals, and innovative multi-media have been chosen for a permanent exhibit in a newly refurbished downtown park.

The SPark! Public Art Display is a museum without walls, said Karen Finn, executive director of the Springfield Cultural Partnership and the project’s director.

“It creates vibrancy, it creates a space where people hopefully want to gather, it creates a venue for events,” Finn said.

In 2019, the cultural partnership put out a call for public art to be installed in Pynchon Plaza Park on Dwight Street. After being closed for decades, the small park reopened last year following a $4 million renovation. The park provides a direct connection to walk between the Main Street business corridor and the Springfield Museums.

The artwork selected was inspired by Springfield’s history, its residents, cultures and places, said Finn.

“We did not jury any of the art, it was all community members,” Finn said.

Artist Beth Crawford of Haydenville said she is thrilled to have been picked for the new exhibit.

“It is just such a welcoming lovely place,” Crawford said.

Crawford and her husband Robert Dickerman created a sculpture titled “Duryea Redux” – a tribute to Springfield’s place in the history of the American automobile. Their sculpture is made of reclaimed iron wheels that spin in the breeze.

Another artist, Jeffrey Lara of Springfield, created a sculpture made of steel wrapped with colored vinyl that represents the sunrise and sunset. He said he feels blessed to be part of the exhibit.

“I think it’s beautiful,” Lara said. “If you look around, they all look very different but I realize that they call come on to the same point which is to bring some sort of inner peace and inner understanding of not only ourselves but our community, our city and the moment we are currently in.”

The new art display was paid for with a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to the Springfield Museums that was matched with other private and public funds including a federal Community Development Block Grant from the city.

Mayor Domenic Sarno said arts and culture are important parts of the city’s economy.

“The artists and their creativity here builds on the history and legacy of the city of Springfield and when things look good, you feel good and you want to be around and you want to spend money,” Sarno said.

Not all of the artwork has been put in place. The exhibit is expected to be completed over the next six months.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.