For as long as I can remember, I have thought playgrounds should do double duty as sculpture parks. To my delight, while exploring Atlanta’s large and lovely Piedmont Park recently, I discovered they have a playground designed by renowned sculptor Isamu Noguchi.
Noguchi was born in Los Angeles in 1904 and during his lifetime (he died in 1988), he designed a vast array of art - from abstract sculptures to gardens, to furniture and fountains, to parks and plazas.
And yes, even playgrounds.
The Piedmont Park playground entitle “Playscapes,” was commissioned to honor Atlanta’s bicentennial and opened in 1976.
The playground is spacious with lots of room between the different sculptural elements which is what gives it a sculpture park look - each piece having its own space that allows you to walk around it.
While Playscapes has traditional playground equipment, i.e. slide, swings and sand box – they all have a contemporary sculptural twist. Each piece has a dominant shape – cylinder, rectangle, triangle and square which remind me of the infant toy that you have to fit different-shaped blocks into the right holes.
I love that children get to climb into the lighthouse-like slide and can see through or crawl through some of the pieces. While Noguchi uses bright colours, they are more somber than the bold, neon-like colours of the cookie-cutter new playgrounds across Canada today.
Have a look. Let me know what you think?
Here is a collection of photos taken in other cities of public art and playground structures that could easily be integrated to create a playground that is also a sculpture park.
This public artwork by Calgary artist Jeff de Boer at the entrance to the ENMAX Park at Stampede Park would be a fun addition to a playground. I have often wondered what Jeff would create if he was commissioned to design a playground.
On the Playscapes plaque, Noguchi is quoted as saying, “When an artist stops being a child, he stops being an artist.” I am not sure I totally agree with that statement, but I do agree some artists function best when they “think and feel like a child.”
Personally, I try to live everyday with the curiosity of a child.