My Art Park Dreams – What Are Yours?

As we gather in the next few weeks to discuss what The Arts Center’s Art Park could be, I find myself dreaming of possibilities. As the gallery manager, former curator and art historian, I feel that I need to speak up and advocate that ART needs to be a visible and dynamic aspect of the park–this may seem obvious, after all, we are an ARTS Center, but its easy to get sidetracked by loud voices and special interests. The Arts Center board took a risk in securing this property–fortunately they had the wherewithal to see an opportunity to change the character of downtown and perhaps they even envisioned that transforming such a place could be a catalyst for further change.

When I advocate for including ART in the park I don’t necessarily mean that we need a sculpture park, actually far from it. I just don’t think that would be the right fit for Jamestown. I don’t want to repeat the same model, we are unique so why shouldn’t our Art Park be unique. I think there is the potential to integrate art into the entire fabric of the park–from design and layout to seating and structure. I’ve had the opportunity to be part of several community development initiatives in South Central North Dakota and a prevalent theme is beautification or lack there of. Perhaps its the long winters, cultural mores or simple economics that keeps our towns and cities from going the extra mile to create beauty in buildings, parks, and roadways. We can travel to other places and see fun, thriving, attractive downtowns then we return home and wonder why we can’t have that too. There are people who suggest change but they are often shot down–there are so many voices that say, “you can’t do that” or “its too expensive” or “that will never happen.” Why can’t we shift our thinking and say, “how can we make that happen?” or “is there another way?” or “who can help with this?” You know the saying, “if there’s a will there’s a way” perhaps this can be the mantra of the Art Park undertaking as the many voices meet in the next few weeks. On November 6 please come to share your thoughts, consultants will be available to gather community input at 9:00 am in the Arts Center’s Gallery. If you cannot attend, please be part of the conversation by emailing ( or mailing your ideas.

Here is my short list of dreams for “The Art Park”:

  • Park should have unified design, what I mean by this is that it should be designed with all its many components in concert with each other
  • Park as a whole should be an “artwork”
  • Park will be the “hub” of Jamestown’s “creative district”
  • Park should be multi-purpose
  • Park should have a performance space
  • Park should have integrated seating
  • Park should be visible and attractive to 1st Ave South but also protected
  • Park should incorporate art throughout (artists could be enlisted to design and create unique seating, spacial dividers, pathways, structures, etc.)
  • Park should incorporate aspects of traditional arts which have great relevance to our community and region
  • Park must incorporate storage for maintenance and equipment
  • Park should be colorful in all seasons
  • Park should be utilized in all seasons
  • Park should be easy to maintain
  • Park should be welcoming to everyone and all ages
  • Park should include some educational features (interpretive signs to tell about the arts and activities that might be associated with the park’s features)
  • Park should be attractive at night and welcoming (lighting)
  • Working with Red Plum Media utilize the “wall” for multi-media presentations, movies and/or art installations
  • Work with local businesses & city to develop 2nd Street SW from 1st Avenue S to 2nd Avenue SW into a creative corridor