15 Jun “Cubs at Play” sculpture in North Mountain Park
Public art in North Mountain Park.
Artist: Sarah Mayer.
Installed in 2003.
Photo essay published in 2023.
A lovely, lively small sculpture
“Cubs at Play” is a lovely, lively small sculpture located just steps from the Nature Center building in North Mountain Park. Sculpted by artist Sarah Mayer, Cubs at Play was generously donated to the Ashland community by Narcissa Kelley.
I have not been able to learn very much about Sarah Mayer, Narcissa Kelley or the artwork. If one of my readers is able to add to the minimal information in this photo essay, please contact me through this website.
The Parks Commission and art in 2002
In early 2002, Narcissa Kelley offered to donate this sculpture to North Mountain Park. Kari Gies, Education Coordinator at North Mountain Park at the time, took her offer to the May 2002 meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission. The artist Sarah Mayer not only attended this meeting, she also brought the sculpture along for the commissioners to view out in the parking lot.
While thankful for the offer, commissioners faced a quandary. At the time, the Parks Commission had no formal policy regarding “art in the parks.” Though they liked this artwork, they had denied other artworks proposed for Ashland parks due to lack of a policy, and felt it would be unfair to approve this one.
By August 2002, a Parks Art Policy had been drafted and approved. A few months later, in January 2003, Kari Gies once again brought the proposed Cubs at Play donation to the Parks Commission. This time, commissioners decided to accept the artwork, pending approval also by the new Public Arts Commission.
The brand-new Public Arts Commission
Ashland’s first city-owned artwork was Pioneer Mike (which stands atop the Carter Memorial Fountain), donated by the Carter family to the city in 1910. Ninety two years later, the City Council decided to create a Public Arts Commission to encourage, review and approve new publicly owned artworks. The commission launched with its first organizational meeting in January 2003. Weeks later, at only their second meeting, the new arts commissioners learned about Sarah Mayer’s sculpture and decided to collaborate with the Parks Commission to make “Cubs at Play” part of the city arts collection.
Many people love to stroll through North Mountain Park. They have now enjoyed this playful bronze sculpture for twenty years. The photo below gives some perspective on the location of “Cubs at Play.”
More art at North Mountain Park
Here are links to three more photo essays about North Mountain Park art.