Art is supposed to surprise.

Art is supposed to surprise.

So imagine how surprised people will be when they visit St. Mary’s Medical Center on April 1 to find, among other things, a steel lion more than seven feet tall, or large orb-like balls flanking one side of the entranceway on R.D. Mize Road.

Then again, the four artists chosen for this year’s Blue Springs Public Art Commission display had to work with the exhibit title “Serendipity,” so, well, the lion and orbs make sense.

“As it turns out, all the artists had different definitions of the word,” Eleanor Frasier, chairman of the commission, said. “Some said it was about joy, about accidental discoveries. They’re all correct, of course.”

The official definition – the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate while looking for something else – steered the 14 applicants toward surprise creations, works that would jolt and soothe those people visiting St. Mary’s Medical Center.

In the end, four artists were chosen by the panel, and they are expected to install their work in late March. They will be on display from April 1 to Sept. 30.

This is the fourth year the art commission has put the call out to artists, but it’s the first year the works will be displayed on private property. The aim, however, remains the same: put the art where the people are.

“Partnering with St. Mary’s was great,” Frasier said. “This puts  us in a new direction, and we hope that in the future more people show interest in having the works on their property.”

The four artists are:

Beth Nybeck, of Iowa

Nybeck, an approaching graduate from Northern Iowa University, will install her work, “Subdued Radiance,” between the playground and bridge area.

Standing a little over seven feet tall, the work is of a lion in abstract form. Constructed of galvanized steel, the structure is meant to catch light and reflect it – but it’s strong enough to withstand touch, which is partly what attracted the commission.

“It has both strength and the ability to capture and reflect light,” Frasier said. “That’s a good combination.”

Karl Saliter, of Connecticut, will install his two pieces in the east and west fields that flank the entrance off R.D. Mize Road.

One piece, “Tumbleweeds,” is of three large balls, or orbs, constructed of steel rods and stones; the other piece, called “From East of Here,” is also of rods and stones, a signature style, Frasier said.

While the balls will stand nearly six feet tall, the other work will stand nearly eight feet.

“Again, very interesting and surprising work,” Frasier said.

Dutch Schulz, of Oregon, is a graduate of Blue Springs High School in the 1960s.

Since then, he’s made a name for himself in the art community in the United States, utilizing and practicing in the old form known as glass casting, or the process of allowing molten glass to solidify in a mold.

Called “The Visit,” Schulz plans to install a representational figure with back lighting in the area directly behind the information booth in the lobby.

Juniper Tangpuz, of Kansas City, returns to the art league with his two entries, titled “Crane’s Bill and Mountain Owl’s Clover.”

Residents are most likely familiar with Tangpuz’s work. At City Hall sits his piece that he submitted nearly four year’s ago for the public art display. Since then he’s shown throughout the area, including the Avenue of the Arts program in the Crossroads District in Kansas City.

“He has an interest in a subject he calls creatures,” Frasier said.

For “Crane’s Bill,” to be located at the entrance of the birthing center at the hospital, two pink cranes of five feet will interact with one another. For “Mountain Owl’s Clover,” three different clusters of clover designs will be mounted in a concrete planter’s box within the Memorial Garden.

“(Juniper’s) work is becoming symbolic of giant animals,” Frasier said. “He’s grown wonderfully as an artist.”

As has the public display itself. Frasier said the largeness of this year’s selections is indicative of how popular it’s become. For example, some of the applicants for Serendipity were from Italy.

“Blue Springs has been transformed by its art,” Frasier said. “And it’s become a goal for many artists to show here.”

Each chosen artist is paid $2,500 for their work. At the end of the display period, artists can sell their work or remove it. Seven works remain on public display in the city from the past three years.

“We’re quite proud of our program.”