A sculpture dedicated Sept. 17 at Columbus Street and Beulah Park Way in Grove City’s Beulah Park Living development was designed to portray the excitement of the horses taking off from the starting gate at the old Beulah Park racetrack.2
“In my research, I found a lot of horse-related sculptures show the horses crossing the finish line or rounding the turn on the track,” said Craig Murdick, the architect and artist who designed and created the “And They’re Off” sculpture. “I thought replicating the starting gate and capturing the motion of the horses breaking from the gate would be a way to memorialize the history of the site of the Beulah Park racetrack.”
The name of the sculpture, “And They’re Off,” also could be a metaphor for Murdick’s own break from the artistic gate.
It’s the first work of public art the Upper Arlington resident was commissioned to design and create.
“It’s reallyAr been a lot of fun to work on creating the vision for a piece of art and carry it through to completion,” Murdick said.
The 12,000-pound sculpture is made of Corten Steel and includes, by Murdick’s estimate, at least 150 separate pieces.
He created the design using 3D modeling software.
“I’d compare it to putting together the pieces of a puzzle,” Murdick said. “You have to make sure each piece fits just right. It was a pretty intricate process.”
The project took about three years to complete from the start of working out a design to putting the pieces together at the memorial garden site, he said.
“It wasn’t something I worked on all the time,” Murdick said. “There were a lot of stops and starts and talking with the city and developer along the way.”
The sculpture depicts six horses speeding from seven gates.
One of the gates is empty.
“In a lot of races, there will be a horse scratched for one reason or another before the race starts, so I wanted to add that touch of realism,” Murdick said.
A strategically placed spotlight on the second horse shines on the first horse and at night casts a shadow on the wall to the right of the gate.
“You’ll get a different perspective when you view the sculpture when you look at it at 10 a.m. as opposed to 2 p.m., and depending on the amount of sunlight, and then again if you look at it after dark with the spotlight casting the shadow,” Murdick said.
The different perspectives caused by the sunlight and spotlight help reinforce the feeling of the horses being in motion, he said.
The Sept. 17 dedication ceremony kicked into motion the 42nd annual Arts in the Alley festival presented by the city and the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce.
The festival and Murdick’s sculpture show how Grove City is a community committed to the celebration of public art and its place in the community, chamber executive director Shawn Conrad said.
“Public art is important because it provides “a stronger sense of place and identity for a community,” said Beulah Park Living developer Pat Kelley of Falco, Smith & Kelley Ltd.
Murdick’s sculpture ties together the past, present and future of the former Beulah Park site and the 212-acre Beulah Park Living development, he said.
The sculpture commemorates the history of the racetrack as a place where families gathered together to enjoy good times, Kelley said.
As an important component of the public park that will be developed as part of Beulah Park Living, it also signifies the site will continue to be a place for families to gather for generations to come, he said.
The sculpture isn’t the only component of the Beulah Park Living development involving Murdick.
His Murdick Creative architectural firm helped design the Beulah Place apartments and the Townhomes on Beulah Park projects and is working on designing an archway that will be installed over the Columbus Street extension. The Columbus Street extension connects the new development with Grove City’s Town Center.
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