What began as a model of a “proverbial pink elephant” cut from insulation foam became Baraboo’s latest piece of public art on Saturday.
Community members gathered at Myron Park to unveil a steel elephant sculpture that was created by Madison artists William Grant Turnbull and Laura Richards. Following the ceremony, Baraboo High School Art Club members and other attendees filled the frame of the sculpture with Baraboo quartzite that was donated by D.L. Gasser Construction.
“We are a circus town, obviously,” Baraboo Mayor Mike Palm said, unveiling the new artwork and site of the Myron Park Sculpture Way. “We love our heritage, and we thought nothing would be more appropriate than to start off with an elephant.”
The project, which was spearheaded by the Baraboo Public Arts Association, sought to create a sculpture that was culturally relevant to Baraboo using native quartzite. Turnbull said he began planning the sculpture last spring after he was contacted by the mayor about the possibility of creating a piece for Myron Park.
Turnbull and city officials then began brainstorming a theme for the sculpture that could be continued by other artists and eventually settled on the circus.
“Picking a local theme like the circus is something that any artist can add to,” Turnbull said. “I think having as many artists as possible creating something that’s thematically consistent would be a really unique sculpture garden.”
Myron Park is a city green space across from Quindt’s Towne Lounge along South Boulevard. The park was chosen to display the new piece of public art because it lies along a key gateway into the city and offers room for more artwork.
“This dedication today will stimulate our efforts to add sculptures to this park and will be another showpiece of our community as it develops,” Palm said. “A lot of sculptures could go in here, and we sure would like to fill it up.”
Baraboo High School art teacher Megan Watson said art club members hope to create an additional sculpture for the space in the future.
The Myron Park property was donated to the city by Victory Heights developer George Martiny and was named in honor of his late son, Myron. Myron Martiny’s daughter, Barbara Daily of Illinois, made a donation to BPAA for glass decorations on the elephant’s blanket after reading news coverage about the sculpture project.
The project also was supported by an Arts, Humanities and Historic Preservation grant from the Sauk County Arts & Culture Committee.
Richards said seeing the Baraboo community come together for the sculpture’s unveiling was amazing to see.
“It’s great to see people interact with it,” she said. “It’s a treat for us.”