A Community of Art

Posted on May 31, 2024 by Grace Olson

Public Displays in the Fox Cities

Art is undeniably one of the ways our community connects and fosters relationships. There’s something about the bright murals, eclectic sculptures and overall unique nature of our area’s public art that starts conversations and bonds us. Below, some of our Fox Cities’ neighborhood favorites from those in the know.

Stairway to the Stars

Artist: Gail Simpson

Location: Pierce Park, 1035 W Prospect Ave, Appleton

“Stairway to the Stars is a public sculpture located in Pierce Park, Appleton, created by Wisconsin sculptor Gail Simpson. It features a silhouette of a crescent moon with stairs along its inner surface, presenting a simplistic yet attention-grabbing form with its familiar features. The artist’s style is often characterized by a bold presence, a touch of humor, and impeccable craftsmanship, actively engaging viewers through wit and intelligence while enhancing public spaces to become both dynamic and memorable,” Ashley Acker, Marketing Manager at the Trout Museum of Art and Creative Downtown Appleton Inc. Committee, says. “Art can illuminate communities, bringing clarity to visually busy environments or creativity to quiet environments. What sets Stairway to the Stars apart is its interactive nature; the integrated stairs not only serve as a visual element, but also as seats for visitors to take in the surrounding park, blurring the lines between art and everyday life.

“Much like the sculpture, art invites individuals to pause, connect with their surroundings, and appreciate the inherent beauty found within our community. Stairway to the Stars stands as a testament to the vibrant art scene flourishing in Appleton and its surrounding communities. Across the Fox Valley, public art and murals are plentiful, transforming ordinary spaces into showcases of creativity. Often, these projects actively involve community members either in their creation, through a call to artists, or in their process of installation, fostering a sense of belonging and connection through art. By making art accessible to all, these public installations contribute to the cultural richness of our communities, enriching public spaces and fostering a more interconnected society that sees art as a valuable and essential part of our being.”

Algoma Alley

Artist: Emily Willey
Artist: Drew York
Artist: Carrie Olson

Location: 400 N. Main Street, Oshkosh

This alley features nature-themed murals from 8 local artists,” Jessica Lomena, Local Art Advocate, explains. “The variety of styles and creative imagery is inspiring! You feel happy just taking a walk through it.

“Showcasing public art not only bolsters the creative economy, it also adds to the richness of our community culture. It can allow people to view a building, or landscape, or city with fresh new eyes, full of possibilities.”

The Statue of Liberty Sculpture

Artist: David Spellerberg

Location: West Wisconsin Avenue and North Commercial Street, Neenah

“We have a variety of public art in  the Fox Cities, I believe the replica of the Statue of Liberty stands out as one of the best,” Tami Erickson, Neenah Arts Council Chairman, says. “I drive by the statue often and see many area residents and visitors take photos of this beautiful sculpture… The plaque attached to the base of the sculpture reads, ‘This Memorial is dedicated on this 100th birthday of Lady Liberty in honor of those who have given their lives to make freedom a continuing reality in Neenah. July 4, 1986.’

“The mini-liberty was built to be 10 percent the size of the original, which makes her to be 15 feet tall… This sculpture is one of many that John Bergstrom has donated to the Fox Cities and I am so grateful that he, and others in the community, support the arts. The Fox Cities are an attractive place to live and residents and visitors have commented on the beautiful public art “The Fox Cities have made a major commitment to continually add public art to our communities. It is available for all to enjoy and enhances our quality of life.”

Gesture of Consciousness

Artist: Kara James

Location: Jones Park, 301 W Lawrence St, Appleton 

“As a nod to the self within a universe (Kara Walker, n.d.), this red oak sculpture is strongly grounded in one of Appleton’s greenspace havens tucked right behind a bustling downtown,”

Elyse-Krista Mische, Chair, Appleton Public Arts Committee, says. “ I am drawn to the interplay between nature and the city, between the individual and the community, and between the hidden meaning represented by a bird perched atop a hand gesturing ‘OK.’ I always smile when I see this piece.

“Artist Kara James (n.d.) means for Gesture of Consciousness to inspire viewers to be the light for others. I believe that public artworks light up our community as shared symbols of meaning that inspire imagination, conversation, and connection.”


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