Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden - Atlas Obscura

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Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden

Art blooms at this unique outdoor gallery along the banks of the Arkansas River. 

Sponsored by Arkansas Tourism
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Two bronze rabbits twist, curl, and spin together in a whimsical dance. A bending, abstract marble figure curls through the trees. A steel grid shifts, takes shape, and shifts again in a trick of light and positioning, each angle revealing something new. Two wolves, created from repurposed barbed wire, are caught in motion, in a moment. At the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden in Little Rock, every turn you take through the 11-block-long park reveals one of the over 90 works of art. 

These works range from realistic depictions of animals that feel like they could spring to life at any moment, to abstract forms that ask you to slow down, observe, and feel. Some stretch skyward, huge pieces that fill their space, while others stand just a few inches high. Each piece is a unique reflection of the artist’s vision, making the winding paths of art feel like an adventure. 

Located in Riverfront Park, the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden was inspired by a trip to the Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland, Colorado. Dean Kumpuris, a local doctor and member of the Little Rock Board of Directors, visited the site years ago and thought that his home city could use something similar. The project began in 2004 with an art show featuring local sculptors. The response was so great, Kumpuris told AY Magazine, that they used some of the profits to build a full garden.

They started small with just 30 sculptures, but expansion was always the plan. And it still is. A new sculpture is added each year. An annual event, Sculpture in the River Market, invites artists from around the country to exhibit their work, with one being chosen to be placed in the park. One recent acquisition is a bronze bust of civil rights activist and local NAACP leader Daisy Bates, who served as an advisor and strategist for the Little Rock Nine, a group of Black students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. 

A 2017 redesign of the garden included placing boulders from nearby Petit Jean Mountain and the addition of steel panels that create the feeling of rooms in a gallery.  The panels also block the view of upcoming sculptures adding to the  element of surprise around every corner.

Know Before You Go

Public parking is available in the River Market Deck at 2nd Street and River Market Avenue.

This post is sponsored by Arkansas Tourism. Click here to explore more here.

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