A Brief History of Sculpture Walk Springfield

In 2013, Karen Schneider and Peg Carolla went to visit their respective daughters in two very different cities – Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Mexico City, Mexico – and returned with similar visions about what public art can do for a community, any community… including Springfield, Missouri. In Mexico, Peg witnessed how a long walk on a crowded boulevard was made pleasurable by the intermittent presence of giant cups, vividly painted by individual artists. In Sioux Falls, a city comparable in size to Springfield, Karen saw how a program of changing public sculpture had enriched and enlivened a town center.

Emboldened by the art in these cities, Karen and Peg gathered together a small group of people – city leaders – who they believed would have a similar vision, and discovered a good amount of enthusiasm and support for the idea of public art, specifically sculpture, as an adornment for Springfield and a potential boon for the economy.

Out of this group, Karen was charged with the responsibility of finding out just how the Sioux Falls program worked, which she did quite promptly and efficiently. The architect of the Sioux Falls program visited Springfield and proposed the creation of a satellite program for Sioux Falls, which had the advantage of a quick start, but in the end did not appeal. “Please! We’d rather do it ourselves!” said Karen and Peg.

Progress hit a block, then, but the dream did not die. In July 2014, Bob Carolla pushed Karen and Peg to get the ball rolling again. Mark McQueary joined the group and the group went about doing the work necessary to build Sculpture Walk Springfield from the ground up.

After years of planning, Sculpture Walk Springfield officially came to fruition. Nicole Brown was hired as Executive Director and Shannon Hruska was hired as Marketing Director. In April 2016, 13 sculptures were installed throughout downtown Springfield. By 2018 Sculpture Walk Springfield had grown to more than 30 sculptures in downtown Springfield, Jordan Valley Park, and the Rountree Community. In 2019, Sculpture Walk Springfield became their own 501(C)3 nonprofit organization. Nicole Brown transitioned to Board of Directors.

In 2021, Sculpture Walk Springfield showcased their largest collection yet at 37 sculptures. Avery Parrish was hired as Executive Director. 2022 presented 41 sculptures—29 temporary sculptures and 12 permanent acquisitions. In 2023, Bridget Bechtel was hired as Executive Director and presented 40 sculptures—27 temporary sculptures and 13 permanent sculptures. In 2024, 47 sculptures were revealed—32 temporary sculptures and 15 permanent sculptures. Of the 32 temporary sculptures, 11 were figures called Borders by Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir. Bringing Borders to Springfield is an incredible accomplishment bringing recognition and excitement to the Sculpture Walk Springfield program.