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Here Be Dragons

Meet 'The Knight's Dragon': the winning entrant in the Knight Park public art contest hosted by the borough of Collingswood.

After several months and more than 660,000 votes cast in the 2012 Reader’s Digest We Hear You America campaign, Collingswood will bear the fruits of its labors.

The contest finished with Collingswood in 16th place, which meant the borough was awarded a $5,000 cash prize from Reader’s Digest (and also ruled out of the 2013 competition). Borough leaders decided to use the money to fund a public art installation in Knight Park, and held a contest this summer to solicit submissions.

Despite initial plans to put the submissions up for a public vote, only six entrants submitted designs for the contest; of those, several were ruled out as impractical.

“The Knight’s Dragon,” a three-piece, 16-foot-long sculpture was selected as the winner, and its creator, Joanna Pizzo, will work with a team of sculptors to install it over the coming weeks.

“The Knight’s Dragon” will be constructed with sustainable materials and outfitted with solar-powered lighting that will make it visible at night. From beyond the borders of the park, the sculpture will appear as though it is emerging from the lake (in actuality, it will be anchored on a peninsula near the water).

Cassandra Duffey, Director of Community Development for Collingswood, said that she’s excited to see the result of the project, which she dubbed “a Christmas gift to the borough.

“Going all the way back to the beginning, the contest was a really exciting project,” Duffey said. “As they always do in Collingswood, you expect 100 people to come out and 1,000 people come out.

“For people to do something extra, it should be like a Christmas gift to the borough; they can go and look at it and touch it,” she said.

Duffey called “The Knight’s Dragon” the “standout” among a small field of entries, some of which were “immediately excluded because of practical considerations like wiring issues or liability issues,” and another couple that just didn’t measure up artistically.

“We didn’t get a superfluity of entries that were great for the park,” she said. “[The Knight’s Dragon] was cool, it’s visual, it’s big, and we think it’s kind of got a mass appeal,” she said.

A straw poll of Collingswood residents and workers at Grooveground last week seemed to agree with her.

Jared Hassen, 26, said the sculpture “offers a little feeling of place” that would be accentuated by darkness.

“Imagine a kid going by there a night,” Hassen said. “It’s nice. It offers something unique.”

Abby Schreiber and Emma Scully, both 17, loved the design.

“It looks really cool,” Schreiber said. “Our park is so conservative. I really hope that people in Collingswood can appreciate something like that.”

“It’s funky. It’s different. Maybe it will start an artist’s revolution,” said Scully. “I would walk by it every day.”

Schreiber added that she did have some concerns that because Knight Park is across from the high school that the Knight’s Dragon could become a target for vandalism, but said the sculpture would make her feel more comfortable in the park at night.

“It will be a cool little lit-up spot,” she said.

Devon Winfree, 23, was less enthusiastic.

“I don’t see Collingswood in it,” she said. “I guess I don’t understand. I think it’s a cool sculpture, just not for the installation.”

Meanwhile, George Hornbostel, 63, asked the most important question of the day.

“Can kids climb on it?” he asked. “I know a large kid who will sit on it. “

gurb September 24, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Reminds me of this (in Oak Bluffs, MA) http://friendsoffarmpond.net/timelinetopic.php?id=11
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) September 24, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Boy, that's a ringer if I ever saw one! I was going to say that locally it reminds me a bit of this piece by John Giannotti on the Haddon Twp. side of Cooper River Park: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheenachi/147297915/in/photostream/
Jasomm September 24, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Wow, thats what those things are? I thought they were some utility or infrastructure contraptions protruding from the ground. Never would have guessed they were supposed to be a sculpture.
Collingswoodnative September 24, 2012 at 06:09 PM
At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man let me say I had thought the $5000 prize would go to something worthwhile in town. I sat up late more than one night stuffing the ballot box at Readers Digest. If the money was to be spent in the park I would have spent it saving some of the large trees that are dying off of "scorch". I spoke with someone last year in the park that was surveying the trees. For a cost of $500 each we could save some of the larger trees that will be dead in a few years. Last fall over 70 dead trees were removed from the park, they could remove an other 70 that are dead now. The winning design looks like a direct copy of what's in Oak Bluffs, MA.
Jasomm September 25, 2012 at 04:26 PM
I think the idea is pretty good, but we will see how the final product looks... Though I do agree that if large trees in the park are in danger, and could be saved, I would rather use the money for that.
gurb September 25, 2012 at 07:55 PM
The ones in Oak Bluffs are actually in the pond and float around; you can't get a close look without a boat. The sculpture also brings to mind the Drexel Dragon on Campus there.
endorablack September 26, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I'm totally with you Collingswood native. I thought $5000 dollars could go a long way for new trees or saving old trees. But $5000 dollars for art? I have nothing against art, as a matter of fact, I consider myself something akin to an artist. I know that might be a decent amount of money to buy a painting, but it won't get you art in a park. Consider the $30,000+ spent outside the Zane North School. http://collingswood.patch.com/articles/zane-north-celebrates-completed-rain-garden-with-songs-and-thank-yous Is it any wonder there were only 6 entrants for this "art contest"?
Gary B September 26, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Agree on all accounts. Why did the mayor dictate that the money go toward art? And why was a dragon even designed? Or considered, much less selected? Disappointing that we'll have to look at this monstrosity, forever.
bsdtktr October 02, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Let us examine the evidence : "Despite initial plans to put the submissions up for a public vote, only six entrants submitted designs for the contest; of those, several were ruled out as impractical" ok, who decided they were "impractical"? Maybe they were, but if "several" were impractical, that still left probably 3 in contention. For which somebody or somebodies decided there would be no vote, even though with 3, or 2, submissions, a vote would still be be reasonable,valid, and feasible. so.... Gary B: you said "Agree on all accounts. Why did the mayor dictate that the money go toward art? " Well because, that's what our Mayor does... dictate...along with only needing one puppet vote on a three-person Commission...does anyone else detect a pattern here? (see other recent news as of October 1). "Superfluity"? Definition of SUPERFLUITY a: excess, oversupply b: something unnecessary or superfluous : immoderate and especially luxurious living, habits, or desires huh? Collnative: I too love art (even attended Perkins fundraiser, so I put my meager $ where my mouth is) but yes I agree, your proposal makes so much more sense. Alas, sense seems to not often reign And so it goes with our current government. May 2013...Time for Change

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