At the entrance to this Mississippi park, an anthropomorphic bronze coin welcomes visitors with open arms. This little coin is just the first of several smiling pennies, joined by an assortment of little houses wearing skirts.
These whimsical figures, created by American sculptor Tom Otterness, are scattered around the public space known as PlayGarden Park, located in downtown Fulton. One coin stands on a rock, another peeps out of bushes, and a cute little couple sits with their arms around each other on the railing of a gazebo. A little house in a running pose appears to scamper across the sidewalk near a seating area and trash can.
While the majority of the sculptures are about a foot tall or less, a very large version (approximately five to 12 feet tall) of both a coin and house stand in the middle of the park, arms linked. They are surrounded by a fountain that looks particularly inviting during a hot Mississippi summer day.
Otterness is known for his public art such as “Life Underground” in the New York City subway system and “Other Worlds” in the Hamad International Airport in Qatar. Otterness’s work is recognizable by its playful characters, made with simple shapes, depicted in bronze.
While the Fulton installation is simply titled, “PlayGarden Park,” the figures represented are the same found in “The Marriage of Real Estate and Money,” an installation just off of New York City’s Roosevelt Island. This title gives visitors more of an insight into the message that PlayGarden Park is portraying.
The park, created in 2009, features a fountain, gazebo, tables and chairs, as well as playground equipment for smaller children in addition to the weird and wonderful statues.