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Connections – A Sculpture for Our Park

Connections Tent at Taste of the Neighborhood 2010 (Click for More)

When members of the board of the Highland Park Neighborhood Association decided to apply for a grant to construct a family friendly sculpture in Ellwanger and Barry Park, it may have been the first time the group took on such a project, but this was only one of a connected series of neighborhood cultural initiatives.    Many of these were actually rooted in the decision in 2007 to change the name of the neighborhood from Ellwanger & Barry Neighborhood to Highland Park Neighborhood. The intent of the  change was to make the neighborhood’s name more reflective of its geography and historical antecedents.   At the same time, the Association of the Highland Park Neighborhood also committed itself to preserving its history and connection to the Ellwanger & Barry companies and families.

Yet this grant proposal also represented a new direction for the both the park and association efforts.   This is best expressed by the language within the proposal itself: ”

The Highland Park Neighborhood Association, in partnership with the Southeast Area Coalition, proposes to install a sculpture in the Ellwanger & BarryPark and playground located at the corner of Linden and Meigs Street.  The sculpture is proposed as part of an HPNA initiative to utilize public works of art as cultural anchors at gateway locations and community gathering places within the neighborhood.  The southeast neighborhoods of Rochester have strong identities which are primarily distinguished with signage.  In contrast, the Highland Park Neighborhood Association proposes the development of artistic sculpture, whose design is rooted in the origins of the neighborhood, specifically, the geography, horticulture, and intrinsic link with the renowned Ellwanger & Barry nursery, for installation as cultural icons to articulate the neighborhood 1

In fact, the process of applying for a grant from the Art & Cultural Council of Greater Rochester was the impetus for year long program that used art and exhibits to celebrate the neighborhood’s heritage as well as to enrich its present.   Even before the grant was formally approved, a new  “team” was created to supervise all of these activities: The HPNA’s Art & Cultural Team was formalized in January 2010 to oversee not all only the progress of the grant but a general meeting that would introduce the project ,and several related  exhibits and special events.   This was foreshadowd by a section in the application.

January 2010: Accepting the Grant from the ACCGR

The proposed project will encompass the design, development and installation of one sculpture, an artist lecture and presentation on the sculpture design process to be provided free to the community, a companion educational program providing the rich and dynamic history of the proposed sculpture site at Ellwanger & Barry Park. An additional program component will engage community members, asking them to draw or write their reaction to the sculpture, the heritage of the park itself and their understanding of, and opinion on, the relationship between the two.  All materials, demonstrating the community’s response to the project, will be included in the Neighborhood’s Virtual Scrapbook (  The unveiling of the sculpture will be a featured program component of the Highland Park Neighborhood’s largest annual event, “Taste of the Neighborhood” which attracts approximately 550 participants and is held at the Ellwanger & Barry Park in Sept.  Craig Wilson, an artist and exhibit designer for the Strong National Museum of Play is HPNA’s selected artist to create and install the sculpture.  Wilson will work closely with the HPNA board, residents and the Project Coordinator, Michael Tomb 

Artist Craig Wilson and the Design for his Sculpture “Pear Tree”.

The choice of Artist Craig Wilson was significant for several reasons. First, Craig is a former resident of the area and often brought his own children to the playground in the very park that this sculpture would be installed.  Second, beyond even his reputation as an artist within a family with decades long  roots within Rochester’s arts community, Craig also has worked at the National Museum of Play as a designer of exhibits.  In fact, for a sculpture intended for playground park in the heart of one of the most family friendly sections of Rochester,  it would be hard to find a more appropriate artist than Craig Wilson. 

We were thrilled when Arts & Cultural Council of Greater Rochester approved our application and via our umbrella organization:  S.E.A.C, offered a grant of $4500 towards the project.

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