For Milwaukee Sculptor Richard Taylor, the opening of the Hart Park playground was a happy ending to a sad story, as six of his sculptures were reunited at the new Wauwatosa landmark
More than a decade ago, the Village Business Improvement District partnered with Gary Zimmerman, a principal of Zimmerman Design Group, to commission Taylor to design public art for the millennium. The sculptor created six metal abstract pieces ranging in size from 3 to 10 feet, all with symbolism that represents Wauwatosa's history.
The six sculptures marked each end of the village's pedestrian bridge, where mill wheels were located years ago. The shape of mill wheels, which are relevant to the village's history, can be found in the sculptures.
"There were four on one side (of the bridge), two on the other, and they were meant to lead people from one side of the river to another," Taylor said.
Although the pieces were meant to stay together, when Café Hollander moved in on Harwood Avenue and State Street and installed a fountain and outdoor seating, the pieces were separated.
Two displaced sculptures were stored in a Department of Public Works garage.
The pieces that were created as a set have now been reunited and placed near the Hart Park playground that opened at the end of May.
"I'm glad to see the sculptures reunited in Hart Park," Taylor said. "They are meant to be seen as a group."
Taylor has been sculpting for more than 20 years. Though his training was in painting and drawing, little by little his work moved toward 3-D pieces. The artist learned welding and metalwork. He has been creating pieces and displaying his work across the U.S. ever since.
Taylor combined his talent, emphasis on the abstract and research done at the Wauwatosa Historical Society to create the six pieces at Hart Park, located at 7300 Chestnut St.
"Everything in the sculptures relate to Wauwatosa, and I wanted to make them pretty accessible to people," Taylor said.
Woven into the sculptures are abstract representations of Wauwatosa history. The leaves and flowers of the village's flower, the daylily, are depicted in the sculptures. References to farms are shown in plow and tiller shapes.
The lights of the fire fly are also embedded in the sculptures. Wauwatosa means "fire fly" in Ojibwa.
"You have to look a little bit because they are abstracts, but you'll see water referred to in the sculpture with a flowing water motif in a couple places," Taylor said. "The strap of a woman's bonnet refers to the role women played in Wauwatosa, as everything from farm wives to teachers and business women"
Look closely, and you will see.
JUST THE FACTS
NAME: Richard Taylor
NOTED FOR: sculptures at Hart Park playground representing Wauwatosa history
PEARLS OF WISDOM: "I hope when the plaques are there that parents in the park with their kids will use them as a teaching tool and point out to their kids not only what elements in Wauwatosa are referred to in the shapes in the sculptures, but use it as a jumping off point to talk about whatever history they think is relevant to Wauwatosa."
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