What are the Sculptures Downtown and Why are They There?

While we’ve all seen the art sculptures as we grab a bite to eat downtown, many Southern Utah residents don’t know exactly who brings the artwork to town. They’re actually installed by a wonderful group called the Art Around the Corner Foundation.  

Catori Utah sat down with a board member to discuss the nonprofit & the fabulous art that they provide to our community, and to hear some of the stories  behind the artwork. 


Q. How did Art Around the Corner start, and what is the goal for this nonprofit? 

A: AACF got its start 19 years ago. Originally, some of the city’s movers and shakers wanted to find a way to bring people downtown in the evenings and on weekends; it was an economic vitality initiative, and the goal was to encourage people to visit local shops and restaurants. 

So that team connected with a few local artists, and convinced them to “lend” the city a few sculptures for a year, with the hope that the artwork would bring people out to take a look. It was very successful! Art lovers were thrilled to have the chance to see (& possibly buy) the artwork…and that in turn was an exciting prospect for the artists. 

Since then, the program has expanded in a huge way – it now draws renowned artists from around the U.S., helping to make St. George an “arts destination,” and it’s helped to create a terrific partnership with the City of St. George.

Q. Why is art so important to our community? 

A: Art is important to every community! It draws people together, offering them inspiration and a way to celebrate the works of talented artisans. It’s terrific for the local economy, as people will come to see the art, and stay to enjoy dining, shopping and entertainment offerings. It’s educational – families bring their kids and experience the artwork together, and hopefully that helps to develop the “next generation” of artists. And ultimately, art is just good for the soul: It can excite, soothe, and challenge us, and enrich our lives in very unique ways. We are SO fortunate that our city leaders understand the value of quality public art, and are willing to fund and support it each year.

Q. What has been the most rewarding part of being a part of Art Around the Corner? 

A:  I think it’s two-fold. One, it’s always deeply gratifying to connect and interact with the artists who so generously loan us their work each year. They’re all amazing! And they’re so excited and eager to share their talents with our community; it’s such an enormous gift.

Two, there is nothing more satisfying than walking around downtown, and seeing people experiencing the artwork in a very personal way: The kids are climbing on the sculptures, taking selfies with them, and are generally just delighted to see all of the pieces. And our outdoor sculpture galleries draw singles, couples, families; just about everyone loves looking at great art! So, knowing that we’re a part of the team that makes that possible for our community is a huge honor, and an equally huge gift.

Q. What are some frequently asked questions the AAC receives about the art, and how it’s created and then installed? 

A: The first question is always, who or what is Art Around the Corner? We’re actually an all-volunteer nonprofit; none of us is paid for all of the hours that we put into this program, but we’re all delighted to do what we do for our community. 

Second, we’re asked who creates all of the artwork that we install. And that’s a really cool model: Each September, we send out a Call for Entry to sculptors, metal-workers, and all kinds of 3D artists all over the U.S., and we let them know that we’re soliciting applications for the next outdoor sculpture gallery. We accept submissions – which must include a description of the piece the artist would like to install here, along with photos of the piece, the materials used to create it, its price, etc. – through the end of October. Then our board of directors meets in November, and we review all of the submissions, so that by Thanksgiving or so, we can let the artists know which pieces we’d like to install. Once that happens, the artists have the winter months and into the next year to finalize their piece. Then the weekend before the St. George Art Festival (usually in early April), all of the artists come to St. George, we host them at a special dinner on Friday night, then on Saturday morning (VERY early!), we put together several teams of welders, installers, etc., and those teams go to the various spots in Town Square, along Main Street, and out at St. George Regional Hospital, and the artwork is installed. And by about 10 a.m., it’s all in place! 

The pieces all remain there for one year. If any piece is sold, Art Around the Corner retains a small commission (which helps us pay a stipend to each artist, and cover our operating costs). If, at the end of that year, a piece is not sold, the artist who created it agrees to come back to St. George and “uninstall” it. So it’s a pretty amazing model, and one that we’re very proud of. In the almost 20 years since AAC was established, we’ve brokered approximately $1,000,000 in sales! Also, if a business or private collector isn’t quite ready to purchase a piece outright, AAC can arrange for a lease. More info on that can be found on our website, at https://artaroundthecorner.org/?s=lease.

The really wonderful thing is, several cities in Utah have approached Art Around the Corner for advice, as they’ve launched similar art-on-loan programs of their own. We’ve been delighted to consult with everyone, and help them get their programs up and running. The more places for artists to display (& possibly sell) their art, the better!

Q: Does Art Around the Corner do anything besides bringing the sculptures to town?

A:  Yes! In the past few years, we’ve expanded our charter to include other forms of public art. For example, we partnered with the City of St. George and the DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival to bring urban artists to town, to create murals on the front of the St. George Art Museum, and on the side of The Electric Theater. Also, we again collaborated with the City to transform a number of utility boxes in the Arts District into works of art: We recruited Utah artists to submit designs, helped select the best ones, and then transferred the digital artwork into “wrappers” for the boxes.

Additionally, each year we have a really terrific educational program, in which we bring 4th-graders from the WA County School District downtown for a tour of the outdoor sculpture gallery, and brief lesson in how bronze sculptures are made. That’s always a highlight for all of us, as the students get so excited, seeing the artwork, and they ask such wonderful questions during the lecture. We see this as a vital part of who we are, and what we do; it’s all a part of creating and inspiring the next generation of artists, and art consumers.

Q: If anyone would like to get involved with Art Around the Corner, what’s the best way?

A: We would love to hear from anyone who’s interested! We have tons of info on our website (www.artaroundthecorner.org), and we’re on Facebook and Instagram…plus, you can connect with us via email at info@artaroundthecorner.org, and we’ll be glad to respond to you! It takes a village to bring high-quality public art to St. George, and we greatly value our volunteers. 

Also, since we’re a nonprofit, we always welcome financial support. 🙂 If any local businesses or art-lovers might be willing to make a donation to the Art Around the Corner Foundation, we would be enormously grateful; donations can be made via our website!

There are always tasks to be accomplished as we get closer to the date when the artists come to town and the new sculptures are installed. It’s super-fun, and a huge labor of love for all of us who are a part of Art Around the Corner. We look forward to hearing from the community!

Catori Utah

Bringing the spirit of community to news in Southern Utah