By Dedra Cordle
When Kim Conrad was a child, one of her favorite places to go to was the local park.
Like most children, she enjoyed playing on the playground, walking the trails and discovering wildlife, but there was one thing in particular that brought her so much joy.
“There was this sculpture there that I just loved,” she said.
It did not have a theme to fit the park, nor did it make much sense of those who looked at it.
“It was an avant-garde piece, but it was iconic to that park,” she said.
The sculpture created a sense of wonder, she added, and helped contribute to the magical feeling she experienced every time she visited.
“I still think about it all the time.”
As the director of the Grove City Parks and Recreation Department, Conrad says she is always looking for ways to try to recreate that magical experience with children and adults alike at the parks she oversees. Perhaps that is why she was intrigued by an idea that was pitched to her last year.
In early 2016, Dennise Hunt, the then president of the Grove City Arts Council, requested a meeting with the parks department to see if they would be interested in partnering to bring an ‘Art in the Park’ program to the community.
She admitted she was not sure how receptive they would be to the idea at first, but was pleasantly surprised by the reaction she received.
“They liked it very much,” Hunt said.
After getting approval for the project from city council, the two entities determined that Breck Community Park would be the first location to display a sculpture. Then, they began to search for the best art piece.
At the August EcoFest, a contest was held for the public to help decide which six renderings from local artists would best fit the theme of the park. When all the votes were tallied, it was determined that Ken Valimaki’s depiction of two companion dogs would be the first sculpture to be placed at Breck Community Park.
Citing the whimsical nature of the art piece, Hunt said she was pleased by the choice.
“It’s a lot of fun and has a sense of humor to it,” she said.
Conrad said she was also happy with the sculpture that could soon be placed at the park and looks forward to many more art displays in the public parks.
“I think it is important to have art in public parks because it allows people to discover a creative outlook,” she said. “It can also create a sense of something else to look forward to while visiting.”
To help defray the cost of the project, council and the parks department are currently fundraising to get the project started. Their goal is to raise $25,000 and donations can be made to their GoFundMe account or via regular mail.
The GoFundMe address is http://gofundme.com/art-in-the-park-project while the regular mail can be addressed to the Grove City Arts Council 3378 Park Street Suite E, Grove City, OH 43123.
Conrad said they hope to raise enough money to place the six-foot-tall dog sculpture at Breck Community Park this year.