Statues of the Presidents in Rapid City, South Dakota

It was in 2000 when a furniture maker and businessman in Rapid City,  South Dakota brainstormed an idea that resulted in yet another attraction in this historic South Dakota city of 70,000. Don Purdue envisioned a City of Presidents with life sized bronze statues of each President of the United States located on street corners along two main streets.

Andrew Jackson

Martin Van Buren

Calvin Coolidge

Ronald Reagan

Dwight Eisenhower

JFK and his son

These statues have very different poses, all of which relate to things common to that president with the goal of humanizing the statue, not dwelling on any political themes. They are all at street level and visitors have great photo ops. Go ahead, sit on Lincoln’s lap or stand next to FDR as he gives the “date which will live in infamy” speech. Trump’s statue has been commissioned, but has not yet been finished nor final location determined.

An A to Z Storybook Trail

A new short trail showcasing highlights and history of Shelby County has been completed along the Blue River Trail in Shelbyville, Indiana. The 13 signs are placed at intervals with two “letters” each on the signs.

One of the 13 signs on the trail

Shot of the trail

Note the limestone benches

Sign showing local attraction and bit of history

The whole trail and sign placements are very nicely landscaped with trees and flowers. Scattered around are large limestone “benches”. These have been quarried from a Shelby County quarry that has has been in operation for decades.

The main Blue River Trail along the tree line

In the far background you can see the Blue River-Wind, Rain and Water public art (here is a link to our post about the sculpture). Shelbyville and Shelby County have done a great job constructing and maintaining the Blue River Trail complex across the city and through at least three parks.




Public art is everywhere in Carmel Indiana

Carmel, Indiana is a suburban city immediately north of Indianapolis. Known as the roundabout capital of the U.S. with 140 of those wild traffic routes, the city is also known for its many pieces of public art.  Fifteen of these works of art are by Seward Johnson,  an American artist known for trompe-l’œil painted bronze statues. Other artists also have public art displayed.

“Ambassador of the Street” by Seward Johnson, placed 2012, cost $78,000

“Spring Eternal” by Jerry Joslin, placed 2010, cost $49,975

“Things To Do” by Seward Johnson, placed 2008, cost $80,000

“Who’s In Charge” by Seward Johnson, placed 2008, cost $88,000

Even bike racks have become “art” in Carmel

The day we were in Carmel the weather was not conducive to enjoying street art. We’ll return on a day without cold rain and see more of the many other public art displays. There is some controversy about the people street statues, as not all taxpayers feel that they are worth the price.

Mural remembers an 1885 fire wagon

Aurora, Indiana is a quaint and historic Ohio River town about 34 miles downriver from Cincinnati, Ohio. Go back to February, 1885 and see the city spend $3000 for a horse drawn steam pumper suitably christened Aurora. This beautiful horse drawn firewagon served the city well. In 1962 it was loaned to the Cincinnati Fire Museum in trade for professional restoration and the right to display. There Aurora remains.

In 2017 Mr. Don Andrew, a local resident and businessman, commissioned the Christian Dallas Art company to paint a mural on the side of his building depicting the Aurora in her stable with the team of horses being hitched up. Andrew paid $11,000 towards the total cost of $16,000. The rest was paid from the City of Aurora’s 2017 Facade Improvement Grant funded through riverboat gaming. This mural will really catch your attention when you first come into town on the Ohio River Scenic Highway.

Stainless steel public art

Shelbyville, Indiana is a small Hoosier town southeast of Indianapolis. Recently it has developed the Blue River Trail, a hiking and bike trail that runs from one end of town to the other. As part of the celebration of the trail, the city commissioned a large public art piece on the north end of town.

Blue River-Wind, Rain and Water

The title Blue River – Wind, Rain and Water is inspired by the river basins of the Big and Little Blue rivers, which run through Shelby County. The two come together within about 100 yards of this artwork placement. According to the informational plaque, the sculpture is inspired by the rivers’ courses and the wind and rainstorms that keep the water flowing.

This statue was the winner of a contest that was held where many artists proposed a piece at this location. An artist from Shelbyville, Michael Helbing, was chosen for the project. The 40 foot tall stainless steel sculpture is the result. It was erected in 2018.

Public art displayed on Camano Island

Public art is loosely defined as artwork that is visually and physically accessible to the public that is installed or staged in public space usually outside. Camano Island north of Seattle has several unique pieces of public art displayed for all to see and appreciate.  The two displays below were seen on the edge of a shopping complex.

Camano Island globe!

Cute slogan, huge crab









A striking metal sculpture

The visitor’s center is also home to several pieces of sculpture, both small and very large! The large sign gives visitors a very detailed overview of the island and makes one excited to start exploring. In a way, the map is art as well.  The very tall figure of an Indigenous fisherman is a most impressive piece and commands your attention.

Public art can also be functional. This little “fish boy” has been the scene of who knows how many photos of cute little kids sitting on the boy. You can see the feet of the tall statue in the background.