Behind the Art

For many, admiring a sculpture or piece of fine art constitutes a trip to a museum. For those who live in Frisco, looking at a piece of art can be done while taking a walk through a park or while simply strolling to your favorite coffee shop.

In 2002, Frisco’s City Council established a public art program that required a percentage of funds to be used to commission public art. Today, the effects of this program can be seen all over the city, and whether you take pictures in front of some of these sculptures for your Christmas cards or just admire them on your commute to work, Frisco’s public art has become an integral part of the community’s unique culture. 

A large part of this growing culture is due to the hard work of artists from all over the country. Artists from Colo. to Mo. have brought their own unique vision and talents to Frisco, and they have left a resounding imprint on the importance of accessible art. 

“Frisco First”

One of these artists is Wyo. native David Alan Clark. In 2009, Mr. Clark’s piece “Frisco First” was installed in Simpson Plaza just outside the George A. Purefoy Municipal Center in Frisco Square. It serves as a monumental reminder of Frisco’s history with the railroad. 

“My wife and I do lots of research about what is unique about each place,” Mr. Clark shares. So, the couple eventually decided to focus on the railroad, particularly the first train into Frisco. The sculpture symbolizes change and progress, and was, at the time, a perfect addition to the new Frisco Square. “Public art is vital to a well-rounded community. It is specific to history, needs and hopes. It becomes a cultural touchstone,” he says.

The piece was commissioned through a common practice in the art world known as an “open call.” Artists submit examples of their work, and eventually the committee in charge of the call narrows it down to a short list. From that list, the small group of artists draft up a few ideas and, finally, the committee will decide on the piece. Think of it as auditioning for artists. 

For Mr. Clark, this was a process that lasted for five years. Originally, in 2004, the piece was going to be installed on Preston Road. However, by 2009, “Frisco First” found its home in Frisco Square. 

Mr. Clark first found his love for sculpting in kindergarten. Eventually, he chased that love to Washington University on an art scholarship. From working in advertising in Chicago to sculpting, his creative mind spans far and wide, and a piece of that creativity found a home here in Frisco. 

“Cloudscapes”

Frisco’s “Cloudscapes” comes from the creative genius of an artist from Boulder, Colo. Joshua Wiener grew up in a sculpting family. “My whole life I have been surrounded by art,” he says. “Growing up in that environment, I knew I wanted to be a part of the arts.”

Mr. Wiener knew at a young age that he wanted to be a sculptor. He described the moment specifically as being when he first started cutting stone. After that, he knew he wanted to be able to use stone to articulate meaning visually. 

When he was 18, he began working in symposiums of 150 artists in Colo., and only continued to grow from there. He credits his ability to keep working and to pursue what he loves to his mother, who was also a sculptor.

Among his professional work is the piece, “Cloudscapes,” which was commissioned by the City of Frisco. If you explore the 79-acre Harold Bacchus Community Park, just behind ballfield nine, you will stumble upon 21 saucers suspended mid-air by metal beams rising from the ground. If you lay on the ground and gaze up at the clouds, the saucers look similar to rain falling onto the ground. “I wanted the piece to change throughout the seasons,” Mr. Wiener shares.

Mr. Wiener mentions that he focused on the scent of rain. More specifically, the inversion of rain. Combined with the idea of baseball, the visual of watching a tiny white dot zip through the clouds brings an abstract appeal. 

Mr. Wiener is a full-time professional sculptor, but he is driven to teach the next generation of artists at the Marble Institute in Boulder and takes on interns from the University of Colorado Boulder. He focuses on passing down his passion for art, specifically public art and its ability to do what a museum cannot. According to Mr. Wiener, public art has the subjective ability to address social challenges and impact individuals daily. “I believe in art in public spaces. People relate it to who they are,” he says.

“The Kick”

As Frisco’s population has grown rapidly, new construction has also brought about new art. In October 2018, the National Soccer Hall of Fame gained a new and dynamic piece by Jacob Burmood. 

Mr. Burmood grew up in Springfield, Mo., and found his passion for sculpture as soon as he was able to dig up clay as a kid. “I used to take little pieces of wood and shape them on the concrete steps outside my home,” he shares.

Mr. Burmood was drawn to sculpture like a fish to water and would spend childhood days searching for clay and any materials he could use in the forested areas near his house. As the years went by, Mr. Burmood eventually decided to follow his love for sculpture into his colligate education. 

After teaching at his alma-matter, Missouri State, Mr. Burmood began to enter outdoor sculptor competitions. These competitions would lead him to sculpting larger-scale pieces, which would, in turn, lead him to creating the Frisco piece “The Kick.”

Mr. Burmood was originally working with Paul Dorrell at Leopold Gallery, the gallery that represents him in Kansas City, to do a piece for Arrowhead Stadium, the home of Kansas City Chiefs. However, with the gallery’s connection to the Hunt Family and the opening of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, the piece was born. 

When beginning the process, Mr. Burmood knew he wanted to bring to life the iconic bicycle kick. “It is such a dynamic play and a flourish of grace and power,” he says. “We wanted to capture that to show the strength and grace of a soccer player.” 

After logistics were confirmed, Mr. Burmood started with a small clay model. Once the model was approved, he had to tackle the task of making it 10 feet tall. “I started considering that I should use scanning and 3D imaging because we wanted it to be really close to what I had in the model,” he says. 

After contacting companies in Kansas City and Oklahoma City, Mr. Burmood constructed a 10-foot-tall replication of the model he created. The piece was covered in fiberglass and aluminum, and after a year of work, it was ready to be installed in front of the Soccer Hall of Fame. 

“Dreaming”

Frisco’s public art gallery also includes “Dreaming” by Patricia Vader, which was installed at Wrangler’s Range Park in 2018. 

Ms. Vader began her career as a sculptor when she discovered her love for science as an astronomer at   Yale University. Originally from the Netherlands, she made the trek across the pond after studying for her undergraduate in Amsterdam to teach at Yale University. 

However, science was changing. Suddenly, everyone was using computers and sitting behind desks all day. Ms. Vader felt like the creativity was no longer there. In response to the changing scientific community, she would leave to study and develop her skills as an artist in Calif. “My brain was trained to be creative,” she shares. 

Eventually, this creativity would find its way to Frisco through her piece “Dreaming,” which was cultivated after Ms. Vader conducted extensive research on the history of the location, which was former ranch land.

She created a horse head with kinetic windmill additions. The piece stands as a visual depiction not only of Frisco’s history, but of the artist’s scientific intellect and Dutch heritage. 

For the past two decades, Frisco has been the site of major change and evolution. This growth has allowed for programs proposed by the City to allow for art to be installed and experienced by the community. 

The importance is not only in the art, but in the artists. From all regions of the U.S., artists have journeyed far and wide to create pieces for the people of Frisco, where art does not only exist behind four walls and a high-priced ticket. Instead, art exists outside, in the open air, where it inspires people to grow and change – just like the city itself.

Ashleigh Smith is studying journalism and visual and performing arts at Southern Methodist University.  When she is not writing, you can find her teaching spin classes or reading a book in a local coffee shop.

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