Ten sculptures enliven Jacksonville’s large, centrally-located Klutho Park
The neighborhood of Springfield, just east of Downtown Jacksonville, has seen a host of revitalization efforts in the last decade, and recent years have seen residents actively participating in the movement through new storefronts, renovated residences, artwork, and community events like the hugely-attended PorchFest music festival.
The neighborhood’s signature park, a large, twenty-one acre expanse once known as Springfield Park, has an interesting history: The park and adjacent boulevard were created along Hogans Creek at the turn of the twentieth century, and the city’s first zoo opened there in 1914, followed by the first municipal swimming pool in 1922. Noted architect and Springfield resident Henry Klutho (1873-1964) designed its Venetian-style promenade, and a portion of Springfield Park was renamed in his honor in 1984.
As of late October, and thanks to Sculpture Walk Jacksonville, nonprofit Springfield Preservation
and Revitalization (SPAR), Councilman Reginald Gaffney, and donations from Springfield residents, Klutho Park is now home to Sculpture Walk’s newest installation — ten sculptures, seated throughout the park grounds, along with new landscaping by the city to enhance the project. As with previous Sculpture Walk installations, now at six total, the pieces will remain at the location for two years.
Sculpture Walk’s founder, Associate Professor of Sculpture at the University of North Florida (UNF) Dr. Jenny K. Hager, says the Springfield location was the suggestion of Christina Parrish Stone. Stone worked with Hager and her husband, D. Lance Vickery, on Sculpture Walk’s inaugural project at Main Street Park, in the Downtown core, and the three now form the board of directors for Sculpture Walk. Stone’s idea for Sculpture Walk Springfield took flight rapidly. Klutho Park was the clear location choice, and the group applied for and was granted funds from the Florida Department of State, followed by matching funds from Gaffney and SPAR, and rousing support from the neighborhood.
“One thing that is especially cool about Springfield is the residents are so into the improvements,” says Hager. “I get donations every day.”
The goal is to fund purchase awards to pieces for permanent installation, and one piece was purchased prior to its installation — Light Box, by UNF sculpture student Jenn Peek. From the competitive national Call to Artists, Peek’s piece got a unanimous vote from the selection committee despite being the only piece submitted as a proposal rather than an existing work. Light Box is a cube, sitting at a tilt, with a shiny interior that can be seen through openings in its rusted exterior.
“I’m really excited about the pieces in general,” says Hager, citing a few that seem perfectly at home in this park, such as Oracle’s Gate by Jim Gallucci. “It’s a really large gate that sits near a bridge — it looks great near that — and he plans to grow vines on it,” she says. “It looks like spring.”
By Meredith T. Matthews • Photos by Mark Painter Pariani