Dedication is May 13 for stone sculpture at Ponca State Park

Dedication is May 13 for stone sculpture at Ponca State Park
The Towers in Time art monument, with towering nature sculptures and water features at the entrance to Ponca State Park along the Missouri River bluffs in northeast Nebraska, will be dedicated on Saturday, May 13. A Festival of Art filled with family activities is also planned.

The festival activities will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday and continue until 5 p.m., following the towers' dedication at 3 p.m.

Events will include pottery, clay and kiln working, and artistic crafts. Watercolor painting and photography contests are planned for all ages.

Tower artists Jay and Dean Tschetter, who recently completed a series of massive brick art murals at the new sports coliseum at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, will give tours to discuss their work and the processes involved.

Jay Tschetter is known throughout the region for his impressive works, including the well-known train mural in Lincoln's Haymarket area.

Events are sponsored and hosted by Ponca State Park and the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, the Better Ponca Foundation and the Nebraska Game & Parks Foundation.

The three massive 28-foot towers with a center water fountain, stream and waterfall, is a gift from the Gardner Foundation and friends to Ponca State Park and the State of Nebraska Game & Parks Commission.

The tower sculptures portray wildlife and nature of three distinct periods dating from the dinosaur age to today's wildlife. The four sides of the water fountain expressing the center of life portray the four periods of man's development in the region.

Jeanne Gardner of the Gardner Foundation in Wakefield, NE, said, "This has been a very rewarding experience for me personally. I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with something like this."

Gardner said artists Jay Tschetter of Denton, NE, and his brother Dean Tschetter of Los Angeles, "deserve tremendous credit for their artistic concepts and research of the Missouri National River region and Ponca State Park's outdoor education goals."

Congress designated the stretch of the Missouri River from Yankton, downstream to Ponca State Park a National Recreational River in 1978.

The meandering stretch runs below the Missouri River dams and above the channeled river, ending just below Ponca State Park in Nebraska's northeast corner.

The towers sit on a knoll at the park's entrance, surrounded by a dense hardwood forest and across the main ravine road from Ponca's Highland Oaks Golf Course.

Visitors going to the park's new 17,000 sq. ft. Missouri National Recreational River Resource and Education Center drive past the east side of the towers.

Roger Kuhn, director of state parks with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, has called the Towers in Time "a magnificent depiction of Missouri River history and wildlife and their connection to Ponca State Park."

Kuhn said, "The commission deeply appreciates Jeanne Gardner and her major contribution to making Towers in Time possible. We are honored to have Jay and Dean Tschetter's creativity on display, capturing the spirit of the river and nature for generations to come."

John Kingsbury, president of the charitable Better Ponca Foundation, said his group was seeking "something that speaks to outdoor learning and will set a tone for appreciation of nature and the area's natural beauty.

"Ponca State Park's mission is to get visitors out exploring this unique, beautiful environment to enjoy nature and natural beauty. We wanted something special at the park's entrance to establish a tone for outdoor experiences," he said.

Park Superintendent Jeff Fields with the Game & Parks Commission said, "We are very thankful to Jeanne Gardner and to Jay and Dean Tschetter for their vision. Obviously, they made a personal commitment to something unique and striking.

"The towers will install a sense of place that encourages stewardship," Fields said. "It fits with our naturalist programs and our year around activities."

More than a half a million visitors annually enjoy the natural beauty and activities of Ponca State Park along the wooded river bluffs.

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