Explore: Art and functionality at Cullman’s Art Park

Xena catches some shade at Cullman’s Art Park on the city’s southwest side. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

Recently, The Tribune set out to explore all of the many beautiful parks within Cullman County. We’ll visit one each week.

CULLMAN, Ala. – At the corner of Main Avenue Southwest and Second Street Southwest is the 1.8-acre Cullman Art Park. Once a bit of an eyesore, the former Cullman Park is now an inviting and whimsical space with unique features that are sure to bring out everybody’s inner artist. Art Park has been a welcome change to those in the neighborhood adjacent to it.

One of the first things guests may notice when entering the park is the small amphitheater. The three rows of seating are perfect for a small poetry reading or even an outdoor classroom. It is also a nice place to sit with friends for lunch.

Leading from the amphitheater is an ornate bridge crossing over the creek that runs through the park. The bridge is dedicated to the memory of Samuel J. Arrington, a much-loved employee of the Cullman Street Department. The dedication plaque at the bridge reads, “Sam was as solid as the concrete he worked with. This bridge was his final project.”

Once you have crossed the bridge, get ready to make some music. The park has several outdoor instruments for you to play and enjoy. If you have a percussionist in the family, be prepared to sit a minute as the music section is perfect for the family drummer.

Just past the instruments is the first of many major focal points Art Park has to offer. The playground is probably different from any of the other playgrounds you have seen. It has a rock-climbing challenge with the polyhedral climb. These fun geometric shapes create a great play option as well as a funky art piece.

Next to the polyhedral climb is the swing set/merry-go-round hybrid that is tons of fun. The playground also has two slides built into a hill, making the slides even with the ground. You can’t fall off a slide that’s already on the ground! Another unique feature of this playground is that, rather than dirt, mulch or grass, the ground is covered with soft, eco-friendly outdoor artificial turf.

Another great aspect of the park’s transformation to Art Park is the brilliant landscaping that not only makes the creek a centerpiece, but also opened the park up to the sunlight. There are still many trees for shade, but by removing some and replacing them with native wildflowers and plants, the space was made incredibly welcoming. Sidewalks now flank the creek for a nice place to walk or jog.

Pets will also love Art Park. There is plenty of room for them to run, play or even jump in for a quick splash in the water. Don’t forget to bring what is needed to pick up after your pet.

Art Park’s clever architects found a way to incorporate three well-kept bathrooms without ruining the artsy vibe. What simply appears to be a giant graffiti style mural actually houses the three amazingly spacious restrooms. So if someone tells you the restroom is by the Mona Lisa, they aren’t crazy.

Following the sidewalks closer to Main Street, you will be greeted by more artwork including a piece by Cullman native Heath McClain and more murals by local artist Donald Walker and Adrian Scott from the Wallace State Community College Graphic Art & Design program. Make sure to look under the bridge and spot the giant octopus!

There are many seating options in Art Park, including what first looks like strange round sculptures. They are actually comfy benches to lie in while reading a book or just relaxing to the sounds of the nearby water. Everything about Art Park is a combination of art and functionality, which makes this particular park a true gem.

Art Park is open from sunrise to sundown. It is a wonderful escape and a fun place to play. It is also located in a neighborhood setting, so guests are reminded to be mindful of that. Art Park is maintained by Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism.

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Christy Perry