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Molecular Bloom in Shaw Park

Zach Praiss

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Imagine a single flower in bloom rising up from the Earth above the green tree tops of Shaw Park.

This is the vision behind James Surls’ recently commissioned sculpture for Shaw Park titled Molecular Bloom with Single Flower.  18 feet tall and 10 feet wide, this new sculpture, set to be complete by the spring of 2013, will be a significant addition to Clayton’s world-class collection of public art.

James Surls

Molecular Bloom with Single Flower by James Surls is set to be completed by the spring of 2013. (Courtesy of James Surls)

Almost a year ago, the Clayton Century Foundation, in a joint effort with the City of Clayton, established a committee to begin the selection process of a piece of art for the corridor between the ice skating rink and pool in Shaw Park.

“This is a great place to have a commissioned piece that is about Clayton, for Clayton and specifically designed for the site and this city,” Patty DeForrest, the Director of Clayton Parks and Recreation, said.

The committee sent out 40 requests for proposals to artists across the country.  Then, this past December, the committee unveiled the final four proposals to the public.  Ultimately, the committee selected Surls’ tall bronze sculpture of a single flower in a slender vase.

In his written proposal to the committee, Surls explains how his inspiration for the sculpture was derived from the simple notion of the uniqueness of a single flower in representing a city in bloom: “As an artist, my sculpture begins with an idea, a belief, a truth I consider to be a universal concept.  This concept will reflect the importance of the City of Clayton’s 100 year of existence, it’s centennial, and promote the region’s artistic stature.  It will reflect and recognize the people of this remarkable area and will become a landmark for all humanity.  To create a legacy for Clayton and Shaw Park is a personal honor.”

DeForrest indicated that she is very thankful and appreciative of the community’s dedication to public art like this sculpture by Surls.

“I think it’s great that we are bringing a world renowned artist’s work to Clayton and also that the community has been so supportive of public art,” DeForrest said.  “I just think it’s a very striking and beautiful piece of art.  I’m very excited to have something by [Surls] in the city.”

The Centene Corporation, a national health care company headquartered in Clayton, was at the forefront of the community’s support, pledging to donate the entire $400,000 for the commissioned sculpture through the Centene Charitable Foundation.

The sculpture will be dedicated in the spring of 2013 along with the surrounding new Century Garden.

“We are going to redesign the garden [around the sculpture],” DeForrest said.  “There will be a landscape architect brought on to work with the artist to redesign the site to really accentuate the art piece…I can’t wait to see the final product.”

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The student news site of Clayton High School.
Molecular Bloom in Shaw Park