Downtown Vermillion will get a touch of artistic culture this summer as an extension of the University of South Dakota’s Sculpture Walk brings four sculptures to Main Street.
Larry Schou saw an opportunity to give recognition to the Arts Department and commemorate the hard work of artists in a way that would also benefit the city after he received positive feedback on the 12 sculptures placed around campus last year.
“My interest was to advance what we have on campus and also help beautify the city,” said Schou, dean of the College of Fine Arts as well as the chair of the city committee and co-chair for the campus committee of the Sculpture Walk. “It is beautiful to look at, but there’s hundreds, if not thousands, of hours that go into creating any piece of art.”
The sculptures appeared on campus after the Student Government Association asked President James Abbott for Legend, the Coyote statue near the Muenster University Center.
The positive reception from USD led the Campus Sculpture Committee to extend the opportunity to downtown Vermillion, creating a future Sculpture Walk for both students and community members to enjoy.
“We wanted to see how students and the faculty and staff would enjoy it,” Schou said. “It’s working on campus, so why not use that process and see if it will work downtown?”
There will be four sculptures placed on Main Street, with one sculpture by the Edith B. Siergrist Vermillion Public Library, another by Bank of the West and one in the plats — the cement area across from Cafe Brule. The final sculpture placement is yet to be determined, Schou said.
“They’re in good proximity where people will basically see one and know to go to the next one,” Schou said.
Using the Sioux Falls Sculpture Walk as a reference, the project in Vermillion will be similarly shaped and follow the same protocol.
Senior Stephanie Fischer is looking forward to the future Sculpture Walk in Vermillion because the inspiration in Sioux Falls has been enjoyable for her.
“It gives me something to look at while I’m downtown,” Fischer said.
Fischer said it is great South Dakota is home to such abstract art.
“I like to wonder what the artist was thinking about when (they) made it,” she said.
Overall, the project will cost about $21,000. The city of Vermillion allotted $10,000 to start the project, and the rest of the money will come from donations by businesses and owners, as well as a few grants to various organizations in Vermillion, Schou said.
Schou also said each sculpture will be leased for two years, costing $3,000 per sculpture. The city committee will choose which sculptures will be featured from the pool of submitted sculptures.
“It’s an open call,” Schou. “USD students can submit, USD alumni can submit, anybody can submit.”
After two years, the sculptures may be purchased and new sculptures will then be brought in so the community may view a variety of sculptures, Schou said.
Sophomore Shea Kister is an art major and is excited about the upcoming Sculpture Walk downtown.
“I like to see what other people have to offer,” Kister said.
Kister believes art is an important way to communicate with others.
“I’m not good at saying things, so putting things into form helps a lot,” Kister said. “It’s a really important way to express myself.”
While the sculptures recognize the hard work of USD’s Art Department and the overall art process, the additional pieces downtown will do more than merely immortalize the profession.
“It is sort of multi-purpose,” Schou said. “It is creative scholarship and research, but it is a piece of beauty that the public can enjoy for a long period of time.”
(Photo: The “Generation Slaps” sculpture sits between the Al Neuharth Building, the University of South Dakota School of Law and the Beacom Business building. More sculptures will soon appear in downtown Vermillion. File Photo / The Volante)