Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sky Boulder Art Unveiling

MAY 11, 2009, 5:00pm-5:30pm
Corner of Alabama and Harrison

The City of El Paso Public Art Program invites the public to the dedication and unveiling of Sky Boulder, a sculptural park designed by local artist Willie Ray Parish, located on the corner of Alabama and Harrison, on Monday, May 11, 2009, 5:00pm-5:30pm.

About the Project

As part of an open space enhancement project in district 2, two percent (2%) of funds were set aside for the design, fabrication, and installation of permanent public art. Upon review by an artist selection panel, Public Art Committee, and the Cultural Affairs Advisory Board, artist Willie Ray Parish was selected from a pre-qualified group of artists to provide an iconic gathering place for community residents and visitors alike.

About the Design by Willie Ray Parish

Transforming what was once a drainage dam into a sculptural landscape, Sky Boulder Park brings together 5 abstractelements: Sky Boulder, Hepgrind, Mogul, Divider, and Ballustrade.

Sky Boulder serves as a metaphor for the tenuous state of the earth as it hangs in an environmental balance. As the largest and most dramatic sculpture in the park, it is to serve as a magnet for visitors onto the site.

Mogul, Hepgrind, Divider, and Ballustrade were all designed to inspire the creativity and art of local skateboarders. Marks left by the public, including skaters, are intended to alter and gradually transform the patina of the sculptures.



About the Artist

El Paso artist Willie Ray Parish received a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the University of Mississippi and a Masters in Fine Arts from the Otis Art Institute of Los Angeles. As a metal and wood sculptor, his work has been exhibited nationwide, gaining highly regarded recognition. Parish is currently a sculpture professor at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and is founder and Director of the Border Art Residency, a foundation based in La Union, New Mexico that provides a laboratory environment for national and international artists in La Union, NM.

For more information please contact Marisol Lopez, Public Art Program Specialist, at (915) 541-4257,

See also Notes from District 2: The Coolest Project Ever

1 comment:

Matthew Venhaus said...

I work nearby and was able to visit the project site yesterday during lunch. The widespread use of gravel mulch is disconcerting. First, there is a problem with the source of the gravel. We are breaking down a mountain into decorative rocks and then using them to replace the natural vegetation.

Then that gravel mulch serves to retain heat and moisture in the soil creating perfect conditions for many plants to germinate and thrive. This could be a good thing, but many of the plants that thrive are generally considered to be weeds and require extensive maintenance to remove.

To a great extent, El Paso suffers from the mindset that there are only two landscape options: bermuda grass or rocks. This project could have been used to change that thinking, but the city decided instead to perpetuate it.

Another problem I see with the city's development of parks and median plantings is the failure to follow common sense landscaping practices. I know there are knowledgeable people on staff and on advisory boards, but for whatever reason this knowledge is not being tapped into.

The most obvious example in the development of this park is the planting of trees too close to utility lines. The fiasco that is Edgemere Park should have put an end to this years ago. It must be frustrating for city staff and advisers to see the same mistakes made repetitively.

I hope this project proves beneficial to the neighborhood and encourages individuals to take some time to appreciate art, improve their skateboarding skills, get a little exercise in, or otherwise enjoy the park. I hope that the sculpture is just a starting point and additional artwork is encouraged by inviting neighborhood artists to paint a mural on the dam. But I also hope that this park leads to some questioning about the sustainability of gravel mulch and some outside the box thinking on the improvement of open space.