Sculptures in Donovan Park

The Peoria Park District has approved a plan that would place six sculptures in Donovan Park in 2020.

by Steve Tarter
Tim Bartlett from the Urbana Park District explains The Wandell Sculpture Garden
A local contingent recently paid a visit to Meadowbrook Gardens in Urbana, site of a long-standing sculpture park.

Peoria’s arts movement took a major step forward last November when the Peoria Park District (PPD) approved tentative plans for a sculpture garden in Donovan Park. PPD trustees unanimously approved a plan that would place six sculptures in the park in 2020. David Pittman, a former board member and president of Friends of Rocky Glen, told the board that the addition of sculptures at Donovan “won’t cost the park district any significant money.”

Pittman’s committee looks to raise the funds needed—about $20,000 the first year—to pay artists and cover other expenses involved. The three-year plan would call for up to 12 sculptures to be in place by the third year. “Donovan has a lot of users and a lot of room,” he says. “As a former golf course, it lends itself to having a sculpture garden. It’s an opportunity to bring something exciting to Peoria.”

A local contingent interested in the project recently paid a visit to Meadowbrook Gardens in Urbana, site of a long-standing sculpture park. A University of Illinois professor has promised to help with the design effort, along with involving his landscaping class in the Donovan project next year. Three of the sculptures will come from Bradley University’s fine arts department, Pittman adds, with local talent being sought along with input from minorities and youth.

The sculpture garden concept has already picked up local support, as the Village of Peoria Heights voted to support the project in November. Village Trustee Brandon Wiesenburg, one of those who visited the Urbana site, read a proclamation of support at the Park District meeting. An informational meeting for the Donovan Sculpture Garden is scheduled to take place at Cyd’s in the Park on Sunday, January 26, from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. PM

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