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A Landscape in Steel

The first sculpture in the new Donovan Sculpture Garden was unveiled in February.

by Peoria Magazine |
“Here and There” by artist Michelle Lanning

At the end of February, the first sculpture in the new Donovan Sculpture Garden (DSG) was unveiled at the northwest corner of Peoria’s Donovan Park. The 20-foot steel sculpture, entitled “Here and There,” was created by artist Michelle Lanning and has been on display in the Wandell Sculpture Garden at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana. It was gifted to the Peoria Park District by the Urbana Park District, which has been a strong supporter of efforts to bring the sculpture garden to fruition.

From a host of new murals to sculpture walks in downtown Peoria and Peoria Heights, public art has taken hold in central Illinois. As the Peoria Park District continues to reinvent Donovan Park—the former site of a premier golf course—the addition of outdoor sculpture allows families to relax and observe it over time through varied periods of daylight, weather and seasonal change.

Visible from the corner of Sheridan and Northmoor, “Here and There” represents the juxtaposition of the urban and natural environments. With its clever use of steps and a viewing window, the sculpture creates an opportunity to consider the dynamics of a high-traffic intersection from the quiet contemplation of Donovan Park. According to the artist, the piece was inspired by the midwestern landscape—“the environments you encounter as you drive from ‘here to there.’”

“Urban America is thought of as the hub of industry and culture, and rural America is defined by agriculture and small towns,” Lanning states. “We are distanced by space, cultural identity, and our historic desires to be independent. ‘Here and There’ seeks to remove this distance… [and] re-establish our mutual dependence and strength as a whole.”

In the coming months, five additional sculptures will be installed in Donovan Park, including works from prominent local artists and Bradley University MFA students. Thanks to a core group of volunteers and financial help from Build Peoria and private organizations, DSG is coming together for the public good—at no cost to the public. “We are proud to find ways to work together and help each other out,” explains volunteer coordinator Dave Pittman. “This project demonstrates that when we work together, we can make strong contributions to the quality of life in Peoria.”  PM