Citygarden: St. Louis' Downtown Sculpture Park
Bounded by Chestnut, 8th, Market, and 10th Streets, Citygarden is an oasis of art, architecture, and garden for visitors to downtown St. Louis. Housed in this 2-block section of the Gateway Mall, 24 sculptures beckon to people passing by to come into the garden, stroll among the trees and flowers, and enjoy the art.
Developed by the Gateway Foundation, Citygarden began as a concept in 1999, when Downtown St. Louis created a masterplan for the downtown area, including a sculpture park in the Gateway Mall. The final plans for the park were submitted to the Board of Alderman in 2007 and, upon their approval and that of other regulatory agencies in the city, the Gateway Foundation began construction in 2008. Citygarden was completed and opened to visitors in 2009.
The design of the park is based on the geographical features of the St. Louis area, most notably the limestone bluffs and the Mississippi River. The majority of the trees, shrubs, plants, and flowers are native to Missouri. Architecturally, walls at either end of the park and pathways draw visitors through the park, engaging them with the art. Water, an essential element of the area's geography, abounds in the form of 3 fountains, one of which is a playful spray fountain with 102 programmed vertical jets. Children (and adults!) can roam through the fountain, trying to anticipate the movement of the jets to avoid being soaked or to enjoy the cool water on warm St. Louis sumer days!
But sculpture is the main draw of the park. The 24 pieces range from small to monumental in size. They vary in mood, style, and medium. What they have in common is their quality and their designed intent to draw in the viewer. Included in the works of art is a video wall, which plays movies, films, and art videos on a continuous loop, ranging from 20 to 100 minutes, depending on the piece being shown.
Also intriguing are two pieces by Julian Opie, 2 LED panels each of 2 figures walking. Entitled "This is Kiera and Julian Walking" and "This is Bruce and Sara Walking," these sculptures invite people to join the figures and walk through the park. Both panels are situated so that the figures walk east, toward the river. Each figure walks at a slightly different yet leisurely pace. Julian, the fastest of the 4 figures, walks at about half a mile per hour. In the 2-1/2 years since their installation, Julian and Kiera have almost walked half way around the world. Sara and Bruce are close behind. The positions of these sculptures in the garden and the use of the amber LED lights for the figures effectively draws people into the experience of Citygarden.
Whether you make this a destination or happen upon it as you are walking downtown, take the time to explore this jewel in the heart of downtown St. Louis. As a city park, it is open from sunrise to 10 p.m. daily. And the price is right--FREE!
Dogs are welcome as long as their human companions follow rules of courtesy and don't leave any "gifts" behind. Bring a picnic lunch or enjoy something from the cafe built within the park. Parking is plentiful, from metered parking on the nearby streets to parking garages in the immediate vicinity.
Who says art has to be in a museum? Enjoy the art of humans as well as the art of nature in this urban garden. Kiera and Julian are calling you to join them!