Community Celebrate 'Point 7'
AMY M. COTHAM
The Morning News, September 19, 2005
- Many of the folks who have played on, driven past or power-walked
by the whimsical structure at the northeast corner of Wilson Park
may not know the sculpture's real name.
Wilson Park castle," as it is commonly called, was in fact
titled "Point 7" by its creator, artist Frank Williams.
"It's sort of a self-portrait title," Williams explains.
"Seven is a lucky number. And seven reflects my position in
my family's genealogy. I'm Francis Marion Williams VII. At age 7,
I changed my name to Frank Williams because I didn't like being
named Francis Marion! I was born the seventh month of 1947. And
point can be a place or position in space and time," Williams
continues. "You can make a point, as in projecting a concept
or idea. You can take the point and be the first and lead the way.
You can point at something of significance or importance. A point
should be sharp. A point can be earned for good work."
will speak about "Point 7" during a celebration of the
25th anniversary of the sculpture at 11 a.m. Saturday in Wilson
Park. The ceremony is part of the second annual Art in the Park,
sponsored by Fayetteville Parks & Recreation.
was a Fayetteville transplant from Springfield, Mo., in the late
1970s, when he had the idea to build a grotto near a wooded area
at Wilson Park. City officials suggested an alternate location for
an outdoor sculpture, the site where "Point 7" now stands,
as a way to adapt a spring house they considered an eyesore. There
was little money for construction or for future maintenance, Williams
was told, but the city was willing to provide the space, the cost
of excavation and hand tools for use in transforming the site.
understood that," Williams says, "because the city wasn't
nearly as prosperous as it is now." Williams also knew without
maintenance the work would be a victim of entropy from the moment
it was completed. Keeping in mind the project's inevitable future,
he decided to create a structure that intentionally resembled a
relic in slow decay.
hoped the wear and tear and the vandalism that was bound to take
place would only enhance it and make it look older," Williams
recalls. Inspired by the warped-Gothic look of architect Antoni
Gaudi's work, Williams says, "I intended to create an architectural
anomaly and 'ruin.' Even in its original newness, it was reminiscent
of something ancient, like some old world European or Asian relic
of times past."
was very different from the sculptures Williams' was producing in
his studio, "but I wanted to do something palatable to the
city and for the people of Fayetteville," he says. After just
a few weeks spent on design, construction on "Point 7"
began in April 1979.
was a big deal and involved a lot of people," Williams says.
25 people ages 16 to 21, all with little or no art background, helped
Williams realize his vision. Williams was working with the Arkansas
Arts Council's Artists and Crafts Apprenticeship Program, part of
the Civil Education Training Administration, a program that employed
people to create public works. "They weren't artists, just
unemployed folks who needed jobs," he says. Throughout the
process, "they came and went," he adds. "It was a
hot Arkansas summer, and we were paying minimum wage, so I can't
blame them for trying to earn the same amount working indoors somewhere."
of the "Point 7" construction are well documented on Williams'
Web site, www.frankwilliams.ru, where the artist has posted many
papers and pictures related to the project. Photos of the entire
process, from models to construction to fruition, are available
for viewing, as are a May 3, 1979, letter from the Arkansas Arts
Council to the city, an invitation to the "Point 7" dedication
and stories and letters to the editors of local newspapers, heralding
Williams offers his own summary of the project on the Web site,
printed in part below:
"Many local citizen professionals -- i.e. architects, builders,
stone masons, engineers, landscapers - gave me advice and counsel.
George Shelton and Leo Davis donated the initial stone for the project.
Mr. Shelton was also of constant moral support as were many of Fayetteville's
good folk visiting the grounds during construction. Ninety percent
of the ceramic expertise, materials and firing processes for the
mosaics were provided by Rita and Leo Ward at Terra Studios, just
outside of Fayetteville. Their son John worked on the project as
one of the three 'older' workers hired during the project, acting
as foreman or first assistant. His work and his family's involvement
allowed the last half of the project to run much more professionally
and predictably. White River Iron Works, owned by my friends Linda
and Daniel Marquardt, gave advice and allowed me access to their
metal fabrication facilities. Linda also provided classical music
with her string quartet for the opening of 'Point 7' on a very hot
afternoon was July 20, 1980, when "Point 7" was officially
dedicated and offered for public enjoyment.
who now lives in Russia and continues to create art, has visited
"Point 7" several times since then, most recently last
year. The sculpture resembling a castle, which has long been a popular
place to gather, rest or play, indeed received the expected wear
and tear, Williams says, but he adds, "I always had the idea
it would be popular. I just hoped someone would take over its maintenance.
And ultimately, that's what happened."
a horticulturist for Fayetteville Parks & Recreation, is the
person who adopted the repair and maintenance of "Point 7"
as a pet project. Shortly after her employment began in 1995, Netherland
says, she watched someone attempt to sit on a rock at the castle
and realized how loosely held together the structure is. "The
stones had been very loosely stacked to look like a ruin, but that
meant it could be more easily ruined. And use was heavy. Many people
had come to the castle and climbed all over the rocks. Things were
worn down, and the structural integrity had been weakened. It also
had received some vandalism, graffiti, through the years.
knew ('Point 7') really means a lot to a lot of people. People really
love the castle, and Wilson is our flagship park. I approached my
supervisors about ('Point 7'), and we decided to repair it."
were made to the castle, including fixing a large crack in the tower,
and the structure was made sounder. A handrail for a foot bridge
was replaced. "They did a good job, the best they could with
the materials in 1980, but it had just deteriorated," Netherland
says of the handrail.
were widened and extended. Benches were installed, as were new tiles
from Terra Studios, contributor to the original project. Landscaping
was also added to spruce up the area. "As a horticulturist,
I really wanted to plant flower beds," Netherland says.
to "Point 7" were officially completed in 1999, followed
by a few more minor updates in 2004.
it still exists in a configuration that resembles my completed project
in 1980," Williams writes on his site. "Up close, much
of the detail has worn down or been abused over the years, and the
restoration since the mid-1990s did not take me into account. Unfortunate,
but I am grateful that the city of Fayetteville's Parks and Recreation
Department did finally see clear to seriously invest and preserve
what was always a very popular, much used public work and positive
addition to the community."
hopes the support of "Point 7" continues. He has designed
small statues to compliment what's there now, based on "old
ideas I had when the (initial) funding ran out." He also created
and gave to the city a new, bronze gargoyle to replace an original
stone one stolen from "Point 7" years ago. "It's
bronze, so anyone will have hard time getting this one out,"
50 members of Artists of Northwest Arkansas will also be present
in the park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday as part of Art in the
Park. The artists, who come from throughout the region, will display
and sell their work, and portions of the proceeds will benefit community
art programs. A free lunch will be provided to the first 300 people
who attend the event.
address delivered 17 September, 2005 for 25th anniversary celebration
ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, 2005
Frank Williams recalls construction of Wilson Park Castle, BY SARAH
returns to celebrate 25th anniversary of Wilson Park castle, BY