The Vogel Schwartz engaging sculpture garden is one of many pedestrian spaces along Riverfront Park in downtown Little Rock. It is well worth a visit and walk outside the Little Rock Convention Center.
Two pedestrian bridges cross the impressive river from this park into North Little Rock or just to enjoy the views. Also connecting to Riverfront Park are more than 1,200 miles of bike trails and the Arkansas River Trail System. This 88-mile loop reaches the towns of Maumelle and Conway.
Little Rock’s Vibrant Riverfront Park
Riverfront Park stretches eleven blocks along the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock. Its 33 acres encompass a series of pedestrian spaces along accessible paths, including a wetlands, splash park, amphitheater, nature center, and an informative history pavilion.
Riverfront Park also includes two dozen large sculptures throughout the park. Infinite Dance by Carol Gold and Hippo Bench by Tim Cherry, which my friend demonstrates is also fun to sit upon, are two of them.
Steps outside the convention center and nearby hotels is a sculpture garden that instantly slowed me down to have fun with my camera and enjoy the space. Kudos to the designers of the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden. They managed to create a sculpture garden that is peaceful and urbane, natural and with glimpses of a downtown skyline, filled with sculptures that are close together yet stand on their own – whimsical, classical, abstract, making a statement, or creating a laugh. And none of these characteristics contradict the others. In fact they complement and balance each other.
In this garden you are under a canopy of trees that feel protective and cooling, important in Southern cities. The landscaping accents the display of over 80 sculptures, like Dancing Pony by Kevin Box, emerging from ornamental grasses.
Impressive Art Displays
Sculptures are often placed on pedestals and poles to bring them to eye level, like Whoo, by Wayne Salge. Signage not only tells you the art and artist, but a numbering system allows you to reference the online sculpture tour.
Others are placed on stone, like Vixen, by Pati Stajcar, and Big Bill by Tim Cotterill.
Although some sculptures are placed in planting beds, others beside walkways encourage a close look. Every Word We Utter by Jane DeDecker is the centerpiece of XIX Amendment Plaza.
So Much To Do in Little Rock
Anchoring the east end of Riverfront Park are the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum and the Heifer International Campus and Urban Farm. Many museums and restaurants are near the park. For this visit, I enjoyed an outdoor lunch at 42, with a view of one of the pedestrian bridges.
My first visit to Riverfront Park was a job interview that led to seven years on the Parks and Recreation design team, and yet I have not spent time there in decades. What took me so long? Little Rock is a vibrant city, filled with so much to do.
This fall 2021 visit was an overnight stop on an 800-mile road trip, then enjoying the morning and lunch before heading out – just enough to be certain that I am going back. Turns out Little Rock’s hotels with great views are not only close to concerts in Riverfront Park’s First Security Amphitheater, but also to the 2022-23 Broadway Series coming soon.
This article was written by Connie Cottingham of Garden Travel Experiences.
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