By Kayla Anderson
What is nice about local art being integrated into city planning (or businesses taking it upon themselves to add a bit of style) is that it brings a unique beautification to an area and establishes a sense of place. Fortunately, Sparks has a plethora of murals, sculptures, statues, and more that are outdoors and available anytime, anywhere even during COVID-19. Here are a few to observe:
300 Howard Dr., Sparks, NV 89434
The Sparks Marina has a lot of natural beauty all on its own between the active migrating geese, grassy areas, shade trees, and calm waters nestled around the surrounding snow-peaked Sierra Nevada mountains. However, there are a few additional items to note here. Headed up by former Sparks mayor Ron Smith, the Nevada Veterans Memorial Plaza is available to view at 300 Howard Drive. It commemorates 896 soldiers from Nevada who served in wars and battles since 1864 honoring Nevadans who died for our freedom.
Take the walking path a few hundred yards counterclockwise around the marina and find the big Sparks sign on the beach- it’s a popular place to take a picture.
814 Victorian Ave., Sparks, NV 89431
Known as the hub for Sparks cultural events and entertainment, Victorian Square in Downtown Sparks is seeing a big transformation with apartment buildings going in while trying to maintain its iconic landmarks. On the corner of Victorian Avenue and Pyramid Way, the one-toothed smiling 36-ft. tall Last Chance Joe stands watch in front of the Sparks Museum and Cultural Center. Keep walking down Victorian Avenue towards the Nugget and pass the historic Glendale schoolhouse, Southern Pacific train caboose, and the big colorful mural painted on the side of the I-80 overpass.
A couple of blocks down towards Centennial Plaza (aka the bus stop), a metal sculpture of a family holding up a heart was created in front of the renovated Galaxy Theatre; directly across the street from that is a circle of Grecian-looking stone statues. Across from Centennial Plaza (which has another mural, too) on Victorian Avenue is a smallish functioning sundial that still stands in front of a construction project.
Next to the Victorian Inn at 1531 Victorian Avenue, a spooky skull and Pi-shaped archway leads to likely an artist’s house. On the other side of Pyramid Way behind the 7-11, Scudders Performance and VW Specialists transformed a VW bug into a spider that sits atop its building.
The Outlets at Legends
1310 Scheels Dr. #C-172, Sparks, NV 89434
Providing possibly the biggest open-air shopping mall in Northern Nevada, the Outlets at Legends doesn’t just have a Nike store, Bath & Body Works, H&M, Volcom store, and more, it is also rife with sculptures and statues scattered throughout the property. In the front of the Outlets, Scheels could be a public art gallery of its own with towering metal statues depicting snowboarders, hikers, and other outdoor adventurers out front while there’s a floor-to-ceiling taxidermy wildlife display, functioning Ferris wheel, and arching aquarium inside.
Walk through the rest of the Outlets, and find jumping fish sculptures, a granite rock plaza with markers around it explaining the local flora and fauna, and a large metal sculpture of a guy riding his horse at a fast pace in front of Lane Bryant.
Look up and find sculptures of antique airplanes soaring in place, paying homage to Sparks’ aviation history.
There’s Art All Over the Place
From the mural at the Canine Cottage to jumping trout sculptures on the edges of major roadways, if you take a couple of hours and walk the streets of Sparks, you may just find something you’ve never noticed before.
From Victorian Square, to the Sparks Marina and the nearby outlet mall, there is plenty to see if you’re seeking unique sculptures and artwork in the City of Sparks.