The Art of Progress in Many Forms

September 1, 2015, Department, by Gina Mullins-Cohen

NRPA Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publishing and Editorial Director, Gina Mullins-CohenA massive sculpture underway in China recently made global headline news. The sculpture, named Big Oil Bubble, was erected at the site of the first oil well in the burgeoning city of Karamay, but the news did not focus on the public showcasing of an artistic masterpiece. Instead, the headlines spoke to claims of forgery from artist Anish Kapoor, creator of the world-renowned sculpture, Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”), that sits in Chicago’s Millennium Park and to which Big Oil Bubble bears a striking resemblance.

Sculptures and other artistic installations within parks is not a new idea, but it is one that is growing in popularity and for good reason. A prominent sculpture, such as Cloud Gate, in an urban park can attract thousands of tourists a year and generate millions of dollars in extra revenue.

Inside this issue of Parks & Recreation magazine, we tour several parks where the variety of art used to enhance public open space ranges from sculptures to intricate patterns and mazes created through landscape design. “Using Art to Define Our Parks,” by Paula Jacoby-Garrett, will take you on a fascinating journey of the methods used to create and complement the beauty of park space with art.

This issue also recognizes NRPA’s 50th Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, held September 15-17 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Convention Center. Author Rod Dickens takes us on a tour of lesser-known places to go and things to do while in Las Vegas, followed by an overview of some of Team NEVADA’s most exciting facilities and parks. This section also includes details about Team NEVADA and this year’s Program Committee, as well as special events and information on how you can take advantage of Conference virtually, through NRPA Live.

Moving forward into the next 50 years, the importance of NRPA’s Three Pillars — Conservation, Health and Wellness, and Social Equity — are destined to become significantly more relevant than the day they were established. The tools afforded this industry through education and certification will help to ensure the future success of the Three Pillars. “Education: A Key to Success,” highlights the demand for robust accreditation programs and continuing education opportunities. Thousands of park and recreation professionals have taken advantage of NRPA’s top-quality professional development offerings — with 231 education sessions planned for this year’s Annual Conference, we’re betting thousands more will return to their home agencies armed with the knowledge they need to succeed. 

Here’s to our continued success, as dedicated professionals and as a field with the power to change lives for the better. We hope you have a great Conference, and we invite you to visit us in booth 1271 and share your feedback and great ideas. 

Gina Mullins-Cohen is NRPA's Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publishing and Editorial Director.