This week we have a little bit of little seen public art. It is stashed away behind my local grocery store and in front of the Green Valley Ranch Recreation Center. It is called Prairie Dogs and One-Room School House, by sculptor Judith Stewart.
I go back and forth on this piece. Prairie Dogs are ubiquitous out here in Colorado. While they are an important part of the prairie ecosystem they are also rodents and will take over any field that is not in use, including in the cities. One of the things that keeps them in check is that they carry fleas that also carry the Black Plague. From time to time they will be devastated by the plague, which keeps their numbers down, but it also makes them a minor hazard to humans (minor because the plague is easily controlled by antibiotics).
Still there is something slightly charming about seeing them standing up at the entrances of their burrows, surveying the world for danger. In that way they are like the Western version of the Meer cat.
Personally I think this piece would have been better without the schoolhouse. It is much smaller than all of the Prairie Dogs and while it let the artist outfit one of the animals with a backpack, it just doesn’t add much to the piece for me.
The Dogs themselves are pretty good. The largest one in the back is in the standard pose you see most of the prairie dogs standing in. They two that are touching noses are another common sight with these animals and give a nice Mother and Child feel.
Like I said, I go back and forth on this piece. I think it is nice to have real art at a local Rec Center, but while this piece has some whimsy it falls short to me. The idea that the prairie dogs are going to school just doesn’t work and clutters the piece to me.
The floor is yours.