This very tiny south side park boasts one of Madison’s finest pieces of public art.
In Park Binge, Tone Madison will highlight some of Madison’s finest patches of public space. Got a favorite park we should include? Let us know.
Nestled at the intersection of South Park Street, Beld Street, and Cedar Street, there is a park. Anyone who’s driven up or down Park Street has probably blown past it without even knowing it’s there. According to the City of Madison Parks Division’s website, Beld Triangle Park is technically a “mini-park.” And indeed, this is a very small patch of green space, weighing in at 0.12 acres.
This neatly trimmed triangle of grass has no amenities like benches, bathrooms, shelters, or water fountains. Its main feature is a somewhat hidden public art piece. A subtly gorgeous sculpture, sitting in the center of a circular hedge, depicts two adult figures forming an archway with their arms, letting a smaller, child figure through. From afar, the sculpture is hidden by brush and overhanging trees, but upon closer inspection, it creates a refreshing scene amongst the commercial and residential streets.
An African-American sculptor and Milwaukee native, Edgar Jerome Jeter, was commissioned for this bronze-and-fiberglass work, titled South Madison’s Gateway, in 1987. Jeter passed away in 2004 and Gateway is his only installation in the city of Madison.The project funded by Madison’s Community Development Block Grant program and the Wisconsin Arts Board, among others.
“I wanted it to represent pride,” the sculptor said, “They have no clothes on-not jeans and not a three piece suit. They’re just people.” This quote was found in a charmingly informative (yet elusive) book about public art in Madison, Common Joy, published in 1991. The book describes itself as a self-guided walking tour of outdoor art in Madison.
While the park itself isn’t very scenic apart from the art installation, the intimate nature of the triangle is quite lovely. If you can get past the busy traffic of Park Street, the triangle offers a few moments of reflection and the ratio of art to sidewalk is pretty good. While this mini-park may not be a place to host a romantic picnic or frisbee excursion, if you’re ever stopping at Taqueria Guadalajara, Cargo Coffee, Funk Factory, or any of South Park Street’s numerous other treasures, this cozy and alluring park is a only a few steps away.