Lancaster City’s Culliton Park Receives an Artful Renewal

Southwest Lancaster’s Culliton Park (formerly Farnum Park) has been the home of many community art projects that have culminated in the newly renovated public space on Water Street. The new park, which will be unveiled with a ribbon cutting November 20 at 2 p.m., includes artful installations, play and sport areas, a rain garden, as well as a freshly muraled pavilion.

Photo by Michelle Johnsen

Be Like Water

The new mural, entitled Be Like Water, rendered on the exterior walls of the park’s pavilion, draws inspiration from many sources – most of all the park’s neighbors. Even through the constant challenges of a pandemic, artist Salina Almanzar was able to find ways to stay true to her community-based approach to public art (read our article on her previous work here). The mural includes renderings of the hands of Sandy Drakeford and Marie King-Linares, community elders, as they reach down to plant seeds. Neighbors were also invited to contribute their drawings of local flowers and plants, which Almanzar is in the process of incorporating into the mural as a finishing touch.

The artwork also hits on our community’s histories as well as the current obstacles we face with COVID-19. “[Be Like Water] honors what was lost through colonization of indigenous lands and the resilience of historically marginalized peoples as they behave like water: adapting and transforming their environments,” said Almanzar of her work.

Photo by Michelle Johnsen

The Space

Structural artist Mathew Geller, selected by the park’s neighbors, has been connecting with the local SoWe community and collaborating with RGS landscape architects to renovate the grounds of the park since 2018. Geller, in conjunction with Shrock Fabrication, created a unique fencing installation around the new playground section by incorporating upcycled scrap and parts in a wavy formation that invokes a sense of motion.

Geller also contributed unique spaces where people can come together while still maintaining social distancing, including a circular bench, extra-long picnic tables and tables for playing dominoes, which is a popular game in the neighborhood.

Photo by Sarah Code Kroll

The Process

Though the construction of the park took nine months, the city’s planning for the space began in 2017. In their efforts to create a park that best serves the folks in the neighborhood it inhabits, the city invested in sharing ideas and exchanging input and feedback with the SoWe neighborhood group as they developed their plans. Those efforts included commissioning Salina Almanzar to host Art Pop events in 2018 and 2019. Art Pop invited the community to participate in creating temporary art installations and to have conversations about the new park’s possibilities prior to its renovation. Those conversations contributed directly to the planning and execution of the new park on the whole. Art Pop also led to Almanzar’s award-winning mural in 2019, which is located on the side of the Water Street Mission building that faces Culliton Park.

Photo by Michelle Johnsen

For more information on Culliton Park, visit lancasterpublicart.com.

For more of Salina Almanzar’s work, visit salinaalmanzarart.com.

For more of Matthew Geller’s work, visit matthewgeller.com.



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