SHARE Foundation relocates the 40-year-old "History of Arkansas" art sculptures.
Many are unaware that SHARE Foundation has developed a beautiful art collection through generous donations and gifts over the last 26 years. Various pieces are displayed throughout the community for public access and viewing. The most locally recognizable pieces are the concrete sculptures created by Richard H. Ellis and Tony Sheets called "History of Arkansas," located at Warner Brown Hospital in El Dorado. These sculptures have been proudly displayed on an exterior wall at the old hospital for 40 years.
In 2015, the last medical offices left the Warner Brown Hospital, vacating the facility. Since then, the old abandoned hospital has remained empty and deteriorated. To view the sculptures, one would have to look through blocked gates and "do not enter" signs or get a quick glance with a drive-by. For years, the poor condition of the old hospital caused concerns regarding the public art access, appreciation, and preservation of the once cherished artworks.
Over the past four years, SHARE Foundation and Murphy Arts District (MAD) have worked together to develop a plan to remove and relocate the artwork. MAD generously agreed to provide new locations for the artwork and played a significant role in project planning and development. SHARE Foundation hired an engineer to develop steel and concrete foundations to support the weight of the sculptures on the ground. In addition, a construction company provided a plan and budget quote for services to include the removal, relocation/ transportation, and installation at the new locations. To fund such a large project, SHARE Foundation applied for multiple grants. However, each proposal was unfortunately denied. Thankfully, the SHARE Foundation's Board of Directors approved the project to be funded in January 2022.
The removal/installation began in April 2022 and lasted approximately 2-3 weeks. The sculptures have been relocated to their new locations at the Murphy Arts District (MAD) and the South Arkansas Historical Preservation Society (SAHPS). Six sculptures are now at different locations on the MAD campus. One sculpture is now located at SAHPS, along with the smaller animal stoneware pieces from the main entrance of the old hospital.