Springfield’s original public art exhibition known as Lawn Art With Neighbors (LAWN) continues to grow. In 2022, LAWN expanded to include all of Greene County.

Now in its fourth year, LAWN has grown to include Raleigh, North Carolina with four other cities inquiring about the program.

LAWN is a public art opportunity accessible to all community members and all art forms. The 2023 version of LAWN is set for April 22 to May 7.

“Public art improves our quality of life, contributes to our quality of place, and provides an opportunity to get to know your neighbors,” said Deidre Argyle, associate professor of Art and Design at Missouri State University

Freely accessible public art exhibits like LAWN add meaning to our unique communities, humanize the built environment and invigorate public spaces.

“Even in our fourth year, the main challenge is reminding people about this event far enough ahead that they can plan out the creation and installation of some art,” said Argyle.

Fiona and Saskia Stevens, Mike Stevens and Kate Baird decorated their front porch in Central Springfield with banners the created in a parlor game they like to play called “Exquisite Corpse,” where multiple people work on a single portrait without seeing the parts drawn by the other people. They added pets in honor of our a canine family member. (Photo: provided)

Call for participation

LAWN organizers invite Springfield and Greene County residents to create a work of art in their front lawn for a county-wide public art exhibition.

All community members are encouraged to participate by creating art using materials available at home and placing it in front of their residences. This project is about expressing creativity, no matter the skill level.

Participants pick up their LAWN signs between April 1 and April 19.

April 15 is the deadline for submitting participation forms to be included on the map.

The participation form can be found online.

Find the LAWN site map and viewing suggestions to locate the artworks nearest you online from April 22 to May 7.

Janelle and Jay Patterson of Springfield dedicated this LAWN art to the students, parents, teachers, and school personnel who drive and walk past their house each day in southeast Springfield, near Glendale High School. The bright and whimsical imagery is a hopeful reminder that each day they hold the brush of decisions for their lives. (Photo: provided)

New lawn exhibits underway

Jay Howard, a senior instructor in communication at Missouri State University, is working on a display to be located on West Madison Street in Springfield.

His project is called “Front Porch Yarn Bomb.”

“I’m a fiber artist. I mostly make crocheted blankets. The art of yarn bombing is when you cover an object or structure with decorative knitted or crocheted material. Think cars, trees, or even whole buildings,” said Howard.

Howard has been working all winter to crochet enough for his exhibit.

“At first, I thought about making some kind of structure in the front yard out of tent stakes and plastic pipes to yarn bomb, but then I decided to use my front porch instead. The columns, the hand rails, the flower pots, the chairs, the mailbox,” said Howard.

Daniel Johnson of Battlefield created “Wheelie the Turtle” for the LAWN program in 2021, using a mix of materials, including bicycle wheels. (Photo: provided)

Howard said he was excited to learn about LAWN last year and participate this year.

“Lawn Art With Neighbors is a way for regular people like me who might not always think of ourselves as artists to show our creativity, participate in public art, and celebrate our community,” said Howard.

Lindsay Tobin is a first-year participant in LAWN and is working on her piece to be displayed on South Jefferson in Springfield.

“Our family chose to participate because this is a great opportunity to connect to the Springfield community through art,” said Tobin.

Tobin says her family loves to decorate for Halloween and Christmas and hopes to make LAWN a new tradition for spring!

“We live in University Heights on a relatively busy street. I hope the art will slow people down and show that this area is a cool neighborhood in center-city Springfield. But at the very least, I hope the art will just put a smile on people’s faces,” said Tobin.

An example of a multi-colored square created doing spin art with paint and a power drill. This was mounted to a fence as part of a LAWN display created by David Burton. (Photo by David Burton)

Example from 2022 now adorns neighborhood entrance

Last year, neighbors came to my garage, one family at a time, to create their own squares doing spin art with paint and a power drill. We attached all those squares to a picket fence to communicate that our neighborhood is comprised of unique individuals.

The LAWN display is now at an entrance to our neighborhood.

The “Welcome to my Colorful Neighborhood” project created enough questions that I eventually wrote a blog about it.

My 2023 creation is a five-panel mural created by residents that will communicate that this is a neighborhood that is “loving, kind, safe and clean” and hopefully involve more neighbors.

Expanding to Raleigh in 2023

Michelle Masterson in Raleigh, North Carolina, corresponded with LAWN organizers earlier in the year to say she had lawnraleigh.com online and ready to go locally.

“I haven’t made a final decision about prizes for our LAWN. We’re going to do some random prize drawings among all participants, and I’m talking to some of Raleigh’s artists this week about how to encourage/reward artists,” said Masterson. “Thanks to LAWN for helping and encouraging me and spreading good in the world!”

History of program in Springfield

In 2020, LAWN was launched and included 65 lawn art projects created by over 100 community members. During 2021, LAWN had nearly 75 participating lawn art projects in Springfield.  In 2022, LAWN expanded to lawns in other communities of Greene County.

In 2023, LAWN should bring a new array of front-yard projects and some recurring sites in Springfield and other communities of Greene County.

Past LAWN exhibitions have included sculptures, paintings, installations, video projections, carvings, social practice projects, and more.

David Zaslow of central Springfield displayed these creatures are on the move. They were located elsewhere the previous year. Will they pop up again this year? (Photo: provided)

LAWN was established in April 2020 as a response to COVID-19. The goal then was to create an effort to encourage artmaking and viewing as a form of bolstering mental health and community building during stay-at-home orders.

Sponsors and funding

LAWN is sponsored by Sculpture Walk Springfield, Springfield Art Museum, Missouri State University: Art + Design Department and University of Missouri Extension (Greene County).

Find the LAWN site map and viewing suggestions to locate the artworks nearest you online from April 22 to May 7.

You can support this community project by directly donating to L.A.W.N.’s website or on Facebook or Instagram.

David Burton

David Burton has served as a County Engagement Specialist with University of Missouri Extension for over 20 years. To learn more about his “Engaged Neighbor” program, go online to https://extension.missouri.edu or contact him by email burtond@missouri.edu or telephone at (417) 881-8909. More by David Burton