The Woodson Art Museum’s outdoor sculpture collection has grown slowly but steadily since the first installation in late 1983. It seems like just yesterday that a small crew of staff and local tradesmen, including quarrymen and crane operators, worked in cold November winds and snow showers to install Kent Ullberg’s Eagle Rock Monument in the 12th Street courtyard. As a first effort, it provided valuable lessons that made installing seventeen subsequent works much less difficult.
Eighteen bronze and stone sculptures are now thoughtfully placed around the grounds. From nearly every vista, beautiful sculptural creations enhance the landscape. A duo of towering whooping cranes greets and draws visitors to the main walkway, while a friendly wallowing rhino attracts young and old alike to climb atop its broad back for a picture-perfect moment. Many works are easy to spot; others, like the mountain lion overlooking the Woodland Pond, are tucked away to surprise and delight.
The new kid on the block is Yard Boss, Walter T. Matia’s life-size bronze African goose, placed to charm visitors as they walk along 12th Street. Its head, just visible over the brick wall, will surely bring a smile to your face, but as you draw near, your delight could turn to fright as the goose’s imposing demeanor is revealed. Fear not. As is true of its real-life counterpart, the yard boss’s bark is worse than his bite.
Matia has skillfully sculpted the African goose in a guard-dog stance with a combination of arrogance, danger, and comedy. The bronze sculpture is certain to become a photo favorite. Matia has taken the essence of the bird and created an endearing character that I have affectionately named “Walt” – it just seems to fit.
Yard Boss takes up guard duty at the Woodson Art Museum thanks to the artist’s generous gift.