The McKinney Arts Commission made a surprising discovery while doing research for the Public Art Master Plan: World-class artwork is already on display across the city. Drive through Craig Ranch and its Ballfields, walk the lobby and halls of Baylor Medical Center at McKinney, stroll past office buildings owned by DFA Ltd., drive by the Valliance Bank building, and you will find sculptures and paintings by highly regarded artists.
“While understanding and acknowledging the incredible economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture, we must always remember their fundamental value,” says Robert Lynch, CEO of Americans for the Arts. “They foster beauty, creativity, originality and vitality. The arts inspire us, sooth us, provoke us, involve us and connect us. But they also create jobs and contribute to the economy.”
If you want to learn more about a few of the pieces you might see around McKinney, read on.
Celebrating History and Creativity
Begin the treasure hunt at Craig Ranch with War Canoe, a bronze statue depicting Native Americans on a horse and canoe. War Canoe was created to commemorate the Native American history in Texas. The artist, Snell Johnson, was a convicted con man who, at age 50, changed the course of his life and became a successful artist, creating more than 500 pieces. One of Johnson’s most famous works is the 45-foot-tall Grand Lion sculpture at the entrance of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
From the downtown square, stroll down to 206 S. Kentucky St. and pass by McKinney City Council member Don Day’s three-story, redbrick building to see White Buffalo, a sculpture by McKinney artist Jake Dobscha. Weighing 800 pounds, White Buffalo is carved from Indiana limestone, has horns of steel and is set on a square pedestal of poured concrete and flagstone. Jim Gates, a Kaw Indian, was on hand to bless the art with a traditional smudging ceremony which recalled the importance of the great herds of buffalo in Native American history.
“Life is wonderful when you are surrounded by beauty,” Day says. “Art is a part of every great city.”
One of McKinney’s newer developments, Baylor Medical Center at McKinney, features more than 800 art pieces. Prominent among the art is the Nurturing Dancers sculpture found in the main lobby. Artist Jerry Daniel of Sanger, Texas, says, “Dance has been the focus of much of my work because of its commonality and timelessness to all cultures.”
Another set of Daniel’s dancers can be seen in Hall Office Park in nearby Frisco. “We incorporate art into our facility to create a tranquil environment for patients and their families that promotes hope and healing,” says Scott Peek, president of Baylor McKinney.
Arts and Sports
The Basics was a privately funded sculpture given to the City of McKinney in memory of Alex Clark, a student at McKinney High School who was tragically killed when he was 17. Clark loved to play disc golf, hence the placement of this piece at the Alex Clark Memorial Disc Golf Park.
The stainless steel media was attractive to his loving family as it could stand up to the test of weather and time. The plaque contains the words, “Pay it Forward,” showing how many people one person can affect if those he helps, in turn, help others. J. Anthony Atkins, a Collin County artist, created the sculpture.
In front of the Ballfields at Craig Ranch, an imposing sculpture by Robert Hogan, Joe DiMaggio, depicts the famous New York Yankees slugger in motion at the plate. In 1994, Hogan discovered his talent for sculpting while watching an artist work at an art show. He has become recognized for his sports sculptures: baseball, football and golf. His biblical and music sculptures also have gained him international recognition.
Situated on the east side of the Valliance Bank building at Lake Forest Dr. and State Highway 121 stands the Infinity sculpture representing a biomorphic form of nature and living organisms that seems to impossibly loop into itself. Looking from the top, you can see the familiar infinity symbol.
The sculptor, Khang Pham-New, emigrated from South Vietnam at the age of 12 and now keeps a studio in Canada and Vietnam. “It is not enough for me that a work of art be beautiful or express emotion,” Pham-New says. “I want my pieces to carry each viewer beyond sensation, into realms of contemplation.”
At the entrance to the SPCA on Stacy Road is a sculpture of a group of magnificent galloping horses, Born to Run. The artist, Lorenzo Ghiglieri, also sculpted the American Bald Eagle in 1994, for the permanent collection of the White House. A sculptor and painter, Ghiglieri’s works have been presented to Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
The first formal public art project sponsored by the McKinney Arts Commission and City Council is an outdoor mural. “We are delighted with the mural design, which depicts McKinney as it existed 100 years ago,” says Linda Spina, chair of the McKinney Arts Commission. “It incorporates an art nouveau style and pays tribute to McKinney’s cotton and agricultural heritage.”
Elements in the painting are symbolic of the arts: Indian paintbrush (representing the fine arts), trumpet flower, base clefs and the curve of a cello (evoking live music).
Downtown sites have been identified for this outdoor mural designed by artist Misty Oliver-Foster. Oliver-Foster is a local artist who was chosen by a selection panel of professional artists and Arts Commission members.
“McKinney has a rich history and we want our public art to honor our city’s authentic heritage,” Spina says. Watch for this beautiful mural to emerge over the coming months.
Visit the McKinney Convention and Visitors Bureau, 200 W. Virginia St., for a brochure with map and directions to these and additional McKinney art treasures.
About the author: Tricia Conover is a McKinney resident and commissioner on the McKinney Arts Commission. She is a WSET® advanced sommelier and wine writer.