Public Art League: Sculpture Around Town

Tour curated by: The ExploreCU Team

Champaign-Urbana is home to a diverse array of public art works that simultaneously beautify the city and promote creativity, thanks to the Public Art League (PAL). PAL is a not-for-profit organization that brings in public art works on temporary lease to the city of Champaign-Urbana since 2010. There is an annual open call for artists to submit proposals to PAL for selection. When PAL selects the finalists, it raises the necessary funds for the work to be installed here in the community on lease. While the sculptures are displayed within the community, the artists can sell their work with assistance of PAL. Sometimes works stay for only a short time before they are purchased, others will stay for the duration of their two-year loan. The sculptures that are a part of the 2012 collection will be on display until 2014.

The sculptures are installed all over Champaign-Urbana, from as far East as the C-U Mass Transit district, West as Neil Street, South as the I-Hotel, and North at nearly I-57. Each year the PAL brings collections of increasing size to the area, expanding this artistic reach. More artists gain exposure through this exceptional resource, and bring increasing artistic awareness to the Champaign-Urbana community.

This tour takes a closer look at the sculptures and the artists through formal analysis and creative interpretation. Included are excerpts from the artist’s statements and biographies. This tour seeks to give viewers the tools necessary to view these works of art and gain greater insight into their meaning. Each entry will explore the material construction of the works, how they integrate into their surroundings, and how the elements of the installations come together to drive the meaning.

Locations for Tour

Cycles of Love appears a swirling romantic fantasy from the first moment one lays eyes on it. Located on the corner of University and Neil Streets, its grand movement is striking. There are two human figures inside the sculpture. There are circles…

Double Dutch- A Jump for Joy emerges from the ground into a grand arch of a monumental size. At the peak of the arch are two abstract human forms representing youthful individuals. The dramatic lines that cross in the air symbolize a quote the artist…

Entrance is a great example of artist Barry Tinsley’s style. Working with geometric metal shapes, he combines elements to create unified monumental sized public works. For this particular work, the forms create a door-size arch that could be an…

Unfortunately, not much is known about this piece. If you have any information, please contact the ExploreCU team!

North Star stands on North Chestnut Street directly in front of the old train station in Champaign. The work itself is abstract. Created from metal that has rusted to a deep brown hue, it is comprised of flat pieces of metal that interact with one…

Pointless is a sculpture comprised of many literal points. It is based on a foreshortened spiral staircase. Winding around itself, it sits on its side. The stairs do not begin or end in any specific place. The stairs grow from very small into…

Artist Shawn Morin sees his work as a morphing of figurative, architectural, abstract, and spiritual styles. This synthesis can be seen with the work Remembering Horeb. It stands on the 100 block of Neil Street in Champaign. At first, the work may…

Artist Mike Baur is best known for his large-scale concrete and steel public sculptures. He states, “Weight, stability and permanence are important to me; this must be why industrial components, architectural forms and landscape have influenced my…

New Holland Yellow Dinosaurs at first seems confusing given its abstract composition and specific title. This piece is from a series Moyer did titled “Dinosaurs and Small Monuments to Big Machines” that seeks to explore society’s relationship…

Stride stands at One Main Plaza in Champaign, in front of Orpheum Children’s Science Museum. The creature faces the street, looking at the passersby. The body of the figure stands on four awkward legs, bent at odd angles. It looks as though…

This sculpture, Beautiful Storm, is exactly as it sounds. It reflects those afternoon storms when the electricity of the sky can be felt from through the windows. The rays of the sun are somehow illuminating the dark clouds that create rumblings…

Ice is located in Mattis Park in Champaign. Surrounded by beautiful natural landscape, the work stands in stark contrast to the nearby pond and trees. Ice is simultaneously geometric and organic. Shapes that initially appear hard edged twist gently…

The large metal gateway that surrounds a pathway on the corner of Washington and Neil Streets invites viewers to walk through and contemplate how the work interacts with its surroundings. Artist Scott Mental states, “The purpose behind this…

The circles of the sculpture swirl around one another; some are briefly linked, every so slightly touching, others entirely encompass another ripple. Artist Don Lawler from Stephensport, Kentucky, sees this sculpture as a “reflection on the…

THEB #1 juts out of the ground on North Neil Street in Champaign. The enormous sculpture rests on three geometric corners. Each of these points that touch the ground expand upwards into geometric rectangular shapes. Square metal bars that trace the…
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