A walking tour of the public art in downtown Fayetteville

Oscar Wilde said it is the only serious thing in the world. Camus called it a confession for a guilty conscience.

Picasso said the purpose of it is to wash the dust of daily life off our souls.

It’s art, and in Fayetteville, there is no shortage of it.

And while there’s plenty of art hanging in galleries of the Fayetteville Underground, or resting on the living room walls of local homes, there’s also an abundance of it lining the streets and adorning the walls of the buildings if you know where to look.

We recently went on a little walking tour to check out some of the public art in downtown Fayetteville, and here’s what we found.

World Peace Prayer Fountain – Hank Kaminsky

Staff photos

Located in front of the Fayetteville Town Center at 15 W. Center St., Hank Kaminsky’s sculpture titled the World Peace Prayer Fountain is probably one of the most well-known pieces of public art in Fayetteville.

Commissioned in the early 2000s by Fayetteville businessman Ed Bradberry to sit in of the newly constructed events center, the 10-foot spherical bronze sculpture is layered with the phrase “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” reportedly in more than 100 languages (we’ve never counted).

According to the artists’ website, the sculpture weighs about 8,000 pounds, and can be turned by hand “like a prayer wheel.”

Universal Inquiry – Matt Miller

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Just around the corner for the World Peace Prayer Fountain hangs a series of murals by Fayetteville artist Matt Miller titled Universal Inquiry.

The 88-foot mural was installed by Miller in 2011, and was paid for in part by a $5,000 grant from the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission.

The mural spans the top of the parking deck that serves the Town Center and other businesses in the downtown area, and is visible from the alleyway that accesses Jammin’ Java.

City Fragments – Steve Hoover

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A monument dedicated to the memory of a local family that was tragically killed in a car accident is located not far from the square on Fayetteville’s Frisco Trail.

City Fragments, also called the Hoover Monument, is a piece by local artist Steve Hoover, who died in the accident along with his wife Sharon, son Paul, and daughter-in-law Maureen.

The sculpture was installed in 2008 in memory of the family, thanks in part to the efforts of Maureen’s co-worker, Randy Werner, who found the sculpture outside Steve’s studio, had it restored, and worked with the city to have it installed.

The sculpture sits on the east side of the trail, just south of Center Street in downtown Fayetteville.

Bug Murals – Jason Jones

Local artist Jason Jones works to begin painting a mural on a utility box located on the north side of the downtown square.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

A series of murals by artist Jason Jones featuring colorful bugs cover utility boxes and beautify the gardens on the downtown Fayetteville square.

The murals were commissioned by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department in 2012, and were painted in early 2013.

The idea for the murals came from city horticulturist Roxanne Worthy after years of working to hide the unsightly boxes with plants.

Jones came up with the idea to paint insects that are beneficial to the garden.

Upstream Art Project – Various Artists

Local artist Tina Oppenheimer puts the finishing touches on her storm drain mural on Friday, May 16 at the southeast corner of School Avenue and Mountain Street across from the Fayetteville Public Library.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

A handful of storm drain inlets in Fayetteville have received makeovers over the last few years, thanks to a public art and awareness project called Upstream Art.

The idea is to help bring attention to what goes down the area’s municipal storm drains.

Several murals are sprinkled throughout downtown Fayetteville, including those pictured above (Stripes by artist Lee Porter), and below (Octopi by artist Lucy Kagen, and Heart of Dickson by Tina Oppenheimer.)

For more info about the project, visit nwaupstreamart.com.

Fayetteville Bulldog Mural

Staff photo

There’s a Fayetteville Bulldog logo painted on a retaining wall near the corner of College Avenue and Rock Street in Fayetteville. It has been re-painted multiple times over the years.

We don’t know the complete history of this one, but Fayetteville Public Schools information officer Alan Wilbourn said he believes it was originally painted by FHS art students in the early 80s. Others have told us it dates back even further than that.

We know that FHS student Amy Eichler re-painted it after the retaining wall was rebuilt in 2001, and that it’s been restored at least one more time before that due to some shenanigans before the annual Springdale/Fayetteville football game in the mid 2000s.

Anyone know who the original artist was on this one?

Traffic Boxes – Dickson Street – Various Artists

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Some of the newest public art to go up in Fayetteville is part of a new initiative sponsored by the Fayetteville Police Department to paint murals on traffic boxes to try and discourage graffiti.

Four artists – Tina Oppenheimer, Robin Starr, Emily Berganza, and Rachel Rodriguez, along with inmates from the Arkansas Department of Community Correction Center were selected to paint the utility boxes as part of the project this year.

All of the murals associated with the project are located along Dickson Street.

The Mural at U.S. Pizza – Stylle Read

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One of the most impressive murals near Dickson Street is located on the east side of the French Metro Antiques building, facing the U.S. Pizza parking lot at 202 W. Dickson St.

The mural, which depicts Rosie The Riveter, a stylized Uncle Sam, and some bayonet-carrying soldiers heading into battle, was painted by “western artist” Stylle Read in September of 2001.

More of Read’s work can be found at his website.

Bike Mural on West Avenue

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This is one of our favorite murals in town.

Located on the north side of the building currently occupied by Mae’s Emporium at 352 W. Ave. is a mural depicting an abstracted version of a person riding a bicycle (times four).

We haven’t been able to track down the artist, but according to building owner Eric Lloyd, it was painted about 40 years ago by a local female artist when the building was home to a bike shop.

Lloyd gave us plenty of other details about the artist as well, but he couldn’t remember her name. She was tall, blonde, and lived on Washington Avenue. Any ideas?

Under the Stars – Maser

Eoin Murphy, one of the assistants to Irish artist Maser, helps to build the structure for a new art installation in downtown Fayetteville.

Staff photo

Irish artist Maser, known for his colorful murals and public installations, earlier this year installed a new piece called Under the Stars at the corner of Spring Street and West Avenue, in front of Nadine Baum Studio.

The new work was commissioned as part of the WAC’s annual Artosphere Festival, a collection of events created as a celebration of art, nature, and sustainability.

The work is intend to stay on display for about a year, Maser said, depending on how it ages in the space.

Here’s some more information about the project from our interview with Maser back in May.

Getting Involved and There, Now You Can Grow – J. Seward Johnson

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There are two significant works of sculpture outside the Walton Arts Center by renowned sculptor J. Seward Johnson.

Getting Involved depicts an elderly woman knitting on a bench, and There, Now You Can Grow is a young girl watering her garden.

Both works are sculpted in bronze and partially painted, and were installed around the time the Walton Arts Center opened in the mid 1990s.

West Campus Student Mural – Various Artists

Staff photos

The longest mural in the downtown Fayetteville area is painted on a retaining wall along South West Avenue, behind the Fayetteville Public Library.

The mural was painted in the mid-90s by students at Fayetteville’s west campus school.

We don’t know much more about this one. Can you identify any the artists?

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