The Rotary Sculpture Garden located in Mercy Park saw three new sculpture installations Thursday, October 15. The three sculptures are all made of bronze, matching the nine preexisting sculptures from 2019. 

The new sculptures include “Lift Her With Butterflies,” by Angela Mia De la Vega and donated by Sharon & Lance Beshore and Harry M. Cornell, Jr.; “Bamboo,” by Tim Cotterill (aka Frogman) and donated by Dr. Phillip A. Abston, with installation courtesy of Sharon & Lance Beshore and Harry M. Cornell, Jr.; and “Go Escargot,” by Gary Lee Price and donated by Sharon & Lance Beshore. “Bamboo” is the Rotary Sculpture Garden’s tallest sculpture, sitting at 12 feet, and is the garden’s first sculpture from a non-local donor. 

“Bamboo” by Tim Cotterill (aka Frogman)

“All of the sculptures here have been donated by individuals or families,” said Bob Headlee, Rotary Sculpture Garden chairman. “… ‘Bamboo’ that’s on down here, was donated by an anesthesiologist down in Loveland, Colorado, and he was actually moving to Georgia where his family had moved—his kids moved—and he was looking for a place that he could donate it. And that’s a $150,000 sculpture he donated to us. And then Sharon and Lance Beshore and Harry Cornell paid for the transportation to get it here and the installation. All the sculptures are donated, so it’s their choice of what they want to pick out … We’ve been very fortunate because of the 12 sculptures that are on place here every one had been donated.” 

Headlee said the new sculptures were ready for installation back in April, but the project was halted do to the COVID-19 pandemic. Going forward, the committee has plans to install additional sculptures in the near future. 

“Go Escargot” by Gary Lee Price

“Yes, we have some other donors that are already talking to us,” Headlee said. “We’ll probably wait until spring or summer next year since we’re getting close to wintertime. … But, yes, we have other sculptures. There’ll be more marketing done for people that might have interest in donating sculptures. …”  

Headlee mentioned that there is interest from another non-local donor to bring their work to the Rotary Sculpture Garden. 

“… We also have an artist in Dallas that has traveling sculptures—bronze travelling sculptures, and all of these sculptures are bronze—that is looking at maybe he would bring his sculptures here for a while so people could enjoy them,” Headlee said. 

“Lift Her With Butterflies” by Angela Mia De la Vega

The Rotary Sculpture Garden is a combined effort by Joplin’s two rotary clubs, the Rotary Club of Joplin and the Joplin Daybreak Rotary. The intention of the garden is for the public’s enjoyment, according to Headlee, and the idea originated from a similar garden in Colorado. 

“The whole reason for the park is for the enjoyment of the public, that’s the reason we did it, Headlee said. “It came out of an idea out of Colorado. My son and daughter live in Colorado and we would go visit them in Loveland, there’s a sculpture garden there and we were so enthralled with it we said, ‘you know, we need to do that back here.’ And both rotary clubs came together and said this is something that Joplin needs, so that’s where it started. We set up a separate board, so we have members of both rotary clubs, but we also have the arts community and we also have city representation on our board. So, it’s an excellent board, it’s working board, but the whole idea is to grow this so people can come out and enjoy it.”  

Headlee said since the Rotary Sculpture Garden’s conception it has gotten great feedback from the public. Based on community interest Headlee has already received about the new sculptures, he thinks with these new installations it will draw further interest.  

“It’s been outstanding,” Headlee said. “The park is being used more and more. If you’re out here—of course, today’s not a typical day because of the weather—but it’s a well-used park. We have comments all the time. We started putting some teaser ads on Facebook about the new ones and people keep calling me, ‘what are they, what are they?’ I say, ‘well, when we get them installed we’ll let you know.’ But that just shows the interest is out there. I get emails all the time, people thanking us for what we’ve done, and once again it’s just for the enjoyment of the public. You know, we encourage people that you got family coming to town, bring them out to the park and let them see what we’re doing here. … And we want people that are traveling through the area to stop and enjoy the park also.”