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Inside – Smothers Park Trees

Owensboro’s public art tour one of the best in the Midwest

Owensboro has been a city focused on the arts for decades, and the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art has rolled out a new method of making sure that reputation sticks.

Highlighting the 21 different public art displays across downtown Owensboro and beyond, the OMFA’s River Artes tour brochure provides photos, maps and information about each and every statue and sculpture that’s been erected to enhance the community through artistic expression.

The brochure takes visitors and locals alike on a visual journey through Owensboro-Daviess County’s outdoor public art installations. With an easy-to-use legend numbering each piece, you can use the brochure to hunt down each individual work of art through a 1-21 numbering system that’s reflected on a detailed map.  

According to officials who put the brochure together, River Artes is a public art collection acquired for the City of Owensboro by the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art.

This public art collection is “designed to celebrate the vitality of the City; complement its create placemaking efforts; enhance its cultural tourism image and enrich the lives of its residents and visitors,” OMFA states in their brochure.

“This visual additive creates an atmosphere of community pride, excitement and celebration for this culturally progressive community,” the museum adds.

One of the coolest things about River Artesan outreach program of the OMFA designed to broaden the scope of the community’s access to the visual arts–is that the city’s municipal art collection features some of the best artists in the business. These monumental works of outdoor art in bronze, stone, aluminum, steel and glass were made by nationally- and internationally-recognized artists.

Since River Artes’ inception, the program has acquired 11 works of public art.

These artists have entered proposals in biennial exhibitions sponsored by Owensboro Health Regional Hospital (where one of the sculptures is located!) at the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art from 2014 to 2020.

The River Artes brochure features famous works of art created by the Lundeen Family, such as “Lincoln” by Mark Lundeen and “Nicky Hayden” and “Hometown” by George Lundeen. Other well-known works include “Strength of the Maker” and “White Deer of Autumn” by Denny Haskew, “Celebration” by Gary Alsum, “Meadowlands Pair” and “Into the Wind” by T.D. Kelsey and “Beside Still Waters” by Owensboro’s very own Bill Kolok.

And to make things even more exciting, OMFA Director Mary Bryan Hood and Director of Operations Jason Hayden said, “The River Artes V is going to take place in 2022, and the community will once again have the opportunity to choose a work of public art to be added to the collection.” 

These works of public art can be found from the Owensboro riverfront to West 12th Street, from East Parrish Avenue to Frederica Street. Pick up a copy of the River Artes brochure at the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art or at our Visit Owensboro office and take a journey on one of the best tours of public art in the Midwest.