By Makayla Mason
With the day winding down, we decided that the sunset and cooler weather would be a perfect setting for us to visit Smither Park. Designed by Huntsville-based builder Dan Phillips, the park consists of a concrete enclosure decorated with the quirky creativity of multiple local artists. Upon arrival, we instantly noticed how extraordinary this park was, but it was not until we got closer did we realize all the treasures within the wall’s artwork.
The first thing we noticed was a large amphitheater in the shape of a fish with its open mouth as the performance area. The inside of the fish was made mostly out of traffic signs and automobile parts.
From there, we followed a dolphin-decorated pathway to the sections of the enclosure. Each section had a different theme with its own unique treasures to be appreciated. The various panels were made with an abundance of media, kitchen appliances, glass, keys, rocks, toys, and nail polish bottles and everything in between. We were amazed to see how certain animals or designs were created by using everyday materials.
The overwhelming theme of the park was the ocean. From the walkway depicting dolphins, birds, crabs, sharks, and boats, to the panels arranged to resemble an octopus or fish, and a bench with a mermaid colorfully pieced together. We took pleasure in finding the hidden artwork and sharing with each other these discoveries.
Of course, among the beautifully constructed park, we were able to find a piece of Sam Houston State University. A few Class of 2013 graduation pins were among the miscellaneous objects added to the park.
While most of the artwork was very colorful and vibrant, there was a particular section that was just one color, white. Because of the contrast, it made this panel stand out from the rest. Professor Mike Yawn expressed this panel as being his favorite because it had the most whole, unbroken pieces of ceramic within it.
As we walked through the park we saw many sections of the wall incomplete. We were excited about how beautiful the sections will become once completed and are considering clues to develop a scavenger hunt much like the one we completed earlier in the day.
A few of us had the honor of being crowned the queen of the tigers.
Others took a break to go kayaking.
And Karla, who was recently told to “Dream Big” on her excellent evaluations from the Texas Legislature, found the message reinforced at Smither Park:
We concluded our visit to Smither Park by relaxing on the bench swings before it was time to head to dinner.
Smither Park was commissioned by Stephanie Smither in honor of her late husband, John H. Smither. The project was part of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.