At a windy reception on Thursday, the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri inaugurated their 2019 Cape Girardeau Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit.
In its sixth year, the exhibition spans nine blocks of the Broadway corridor with seven unique sculptures. Only one piece was created by a Cape Girardeau local -- others were contributed by artists from Georgia to Wisconsin.
Stephanie Sailer has been featured in the exhibition several times in the past, but this year, she served as juror. At the reception, she compared public art to her children's’ play habits, and how they often ‘turn everything in their environment into a really fun, imaginative experience.’
“A chair and a table are never just a chair and a table. Instead, they turn into other worlds, things, and people,” said Sailer.
She said this gives them a wonderful opportunity to talk about big ideas such as life and death, and also about ‘being human, and everything that is required of us socially.’ Yet, that sense of wonder is diminished when we grow older.
“We get overwhelmed by going through our life and getting from point A to point B as quickly as we can, and not really stopping and thinking about our environment as much,” said Sailer.
What Sailer loves about public art is that it takes works outside of the gallery, where only a small percentage of people actually see it, and ‘puts it outside where everyone can.’
When it came to choosing pieces for the show, she said she didn’t want to pick things that were monumental or statuesque, but transformative.
“All of these open up questions and thoughts, but they’re something pretty awesome that’s making us think,” said Sailer.
According to arts council director Sara Steffens, public art has played an important role since the 1960s. During its inception, public art was a new concept in a time when art was ‘largely regulated into the confines of the museum.’
“Now, we have grown to expand outside the museum, and putting art in public spaces in Cape Girardeau has become a part of this change,” said Steffens.
Two artists were present for the reception: Andrew Arvanetes and Dylan Collins. Arvanete’s work, entitled Mobile Home, stands at the intersection of Broadway and Pacific Street. He says much of his portfolio features architectural and mechanical details, and while Mobile Home is similar, it also centered on transitions.
“I’ve seemed to be in this transition for the last five years, between one situation and the next,” said Arvanetes. “Mobile Home quite literally refers to where my next home might be, or where I may end up next. Beyond that reference, it’s just an interesting composition of a lot of shapes, like a house, wheels, and wings.”
Collins’ work, entitled Mind Started Rambling, stands at the intersection of Broadway and Frederick Street. It was created by melding an industrial school desk and a hot rod, which ‘gave it familiarity.’
“I wanted it to have the form of a desk, but it started to be almost like a dream object,” said Collins. “It does very strange things, almost becoming like flickering ribbons.”
Collins now lives in Morgantown, Wisconsin, but he has a small past in Cape Girardeau. When the River Campus was built 11 years ago, he taught foundations for a year in the art department.
“I have a real love for this place, and I’m always glad to see a bunch of friends, the river, and all of the things that have changed and grown,” said Collins.