A family of giant steel sandhill cranes have found a new home in the Ella Sharp Park roundabout. The sculptures, which are a work of local artist Rusty Rochefort, were installed in the center of the roundabout the morning of Friday, Feb. 7.
Sandhill cranes are native to the Jackson area. The City of Jackson Public Arts Commission selected this art piece for the roundabout to honor these majestic birds, which are a common sight around Ella Sharp Park. Two “adult” cranes stretching 15 feet tall and one “juvenile” crane at 13 feet tall now grace the roundabout. The steel sculptures were fabricated by Rochefort at his workplace, Steinke-Fenton Fabricators in Jackson. Rochefort says his friends, co-workers and girlfriend all helped him make this family of cranes come to life. “This is the biggest art piece I’ve ever created. I’m honored to be able to do something like this for the community. I’m also happy to be included in the other great artists who have put up fantastic sculptures all over town,” Rochefort said.
The roundabout, which intersects Fourth Street and the main entrance to Ella Sharp Park, is part of a massive gateway construction project that was completed in fall 2019. The roundabout was added to provide better traffic flow through the area. Roundabout artwork and landscaping was built into the project’s budget. Parks and Recreation Director Kelli Hoover says the cranes will help improve the gateway to Jackson’s largest public park. “We’re excited to have these beautiful cranes at the entrance of our park. This family of cranes will act as a focal point for the area and they will help enhance the scenic beauty. Efforts like these improve the look of Jackson and make it so residents all over the city can enjoy public art,” Hoover said.
Over the past year, two other sculptures were installed in the city at the eastern gateway to Downtown Jackson and at the center of the Kibby Road roundabout. A formal unveiling event for the Ella Sharp Park roundabout art piece is planned for later this spring.
A video shows the installation process and an interview with the artist: