Artist plans freedom park
November 3, 2004
Wood sculptor Matthew Welter envisions an expansive freedom park for Carson City’s southern gateway, but needs help giving his dream wings.
“Nevada is the perfect place for a freedom park,” he said sipping coffee from a homemade ceramic mug in his Timeless Sculptures studio office at the junction of Highways 395 and 50. “Isn’t this the don’t-tell-me-what-to-do state?”
For about a year, Welter has been pushing his idea for a linear, 20-plus acre park along the southern junction of the Carson freeway – just yards away from his cluttered blue wood-sculpting studio.
He wants a freedom park, he said, much like 36 other freedom parks around the world, many dedicated to soldiers killed in war.
He wants to display huge wooden sculptures – more than 20 feet tall – throughout the park that inspire thoughts of freedom. The statues will be symbols such as eagles, American Indians, warriors and angels.
The main piece will be the “Advance of Freedom,” an angelic figure still in its conceptualization phase.
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Welter wears a bandana over his clean-shaven head, his thick dark beard adding a hint of the outlaw. On his filing cabinet next to the kitchen table hangs a poster of Osama bin Laden under the banner “Wanted: Dead or Alive.”
He said he was inspired by Sept. 11 to use freedom as his theme.
“Freedom is the oldest and most significant cause there is and there are people abroad and at home who are out to wreck it.”
Welter said he won’t ask for public money to fund this massive artistic undertaking. He’s trying to get corporate sponsorship for his tools, labor and other costs. What he wants from the city, he said, is about 20 acres of city park land where he can display his statues.
With the formation of the city’s new master plan, Carson City Parks and Recreation officials have recently begun looking for a place to put a new 20- to 30-acre community park similar to Mills and Fuji parks.
There is no funding for a new community park, but officials are on the lookout for a suitable piece of land before they put in the funding request.
“It’s a unique idea,” Carson City parks planner Vern Krahn said of Welter’s project, “but the right-of-way in that area isn’t big enough for a community park.”
Welter introduced his plan to Krahn at a public Carson City Master Plan meeting last month and Krahn said it was well-received by members of the community.
But he said Welter’s proposed park is too close to the future freeway extension, which would require extensive mitigation measures for safety, sound, pollution, traffic and other issues mandated by the federal government.
Krahn said a smaller version of Welter’s park, two to five acres set back from the freeway, is probably a more realistic vision.
Welter will have to get in line, though.
The Carson City Parks Commission has given high priority to a few neighborhood parks throughout the city that have already been in the works for several years, including one on Mark Way and James Drive and another off of Arrowhead Drive at the Shenandoah detention basin.
Krahn said the city will examine Welter’s idea just as they would any other park proposal.
“We’ll take it seriously and take a look at it,” Krahn said.
Welter said he knows several years will pass before his freedom park could become a reality, and that’s fine with him. He’s got a lot of work to do.
It has taken him two years to sculpt a statue on commission of an elderly American Indian woman for a Lake Tahoe resident, and he’s still not done.
Sculptures for the park are going to take even longer, he said.
He’s thinking about re-instating his apprenticeship program to move things along.
To inquire about Welter’s apprenticeship program or offer Welter sponsorship, call Timeless Sculptures at 841-8775.
Contact reporter Robyn Moormeister at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.