Art on the town

Sculptures starting to crop up in downtown area

Sunday, May 19, 2002

The artist who created the giant outdoor sculpture sitting in front of the new Lawrence Arts Center says he is more intrigued by what it takes to create his art than he is in standing back and admiring it once it's finished.

"It's all about the process," artist Willie Ray Parish said. " � I tell my students that if they are looking for something beyond the joy of making it � you'll never get the recognition you know you deserve."


Melissa Lacey/Journal-World Photo

Dorian Vance, 2, left, and Lily Kenn, 3, walk past "Alchemy," a sculpture installed recently at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H. The painted steel sculpture by Willie Ray Parish, La Union, N.M., is one of eight works in the Outdoor Downtown Sculpture Exhibition.

Parish, however, is gaining recognition. He is one of eight sculptors whose works were selected for the 15th annual Outdoor Downtown Sculpture Exhibition.

Dana Self, curator at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, was juror for the show. Each selected artist received a $750 honorarium.

The sculptures are being installed in the next two weeks at various sites in downtown Lawrence and will remain in place until April 2003.

On May 10, Parish, who lives in La Union, N.M., and teaches at the University of Texas in El Paso, delivered "Alchemy," his wind-driven sculpture to the arts center. As a small crowd watched, a city worker maneuvered a crane to lift its one-ton pyramid-like base out of a trailer and set it down in front of the glassed-in area of the center.

The crane then snagged the top part of the sculpture � an S-shape made of painted 14-inch oil pipeline that is capped on one end with a lead-colored plate and on the other end with a gold-colored plate � and inserted it into the slate-gray base.

Together, the two steel structures act as a mobile. A breeze of 12 to 14 knots is needed to set the artwork in motion.

An opening tour and reception for the 15th Annual Outdoor Downtown Sculpture Exhibition is from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 8 at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.

"The name 'Alchemy' refers to the fact that the lead ends turns to gold (when it spins)," Parish said.

Although he has exhibited his works throughout the United States, Parish has never shown his work in Lawrence. While he mainly works in large sculptures and bronze, he recently has branched out to creating unusual travel-trailers.

For example, one of his creations is a travel-trailer that has a full-size piano crashing into its roof.