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Arc of Dreams sculpture nears completion

May 19, 2019

STURGIS — Mother Nature was shining on Dale Lamphere and his crew on Wednesday.

But Lamphere knows Mother Nature can be fickle. So, there was an urgency to their effort in preparing his latest work, Arc of Dreams, for transport to Sioux Falls.

A late spring snowstorm and continued showers have made it difficult to bring in a large crane to hoist the pieces of the Arc of Dreams onto semi-trailer trucks to haul.

“We were going to leave some time ago, but the field has been too wet. We had a 140-ton crane in here that was stuck for two weeks before they could get it out. We don’t want that to happen again,” he said.

Lamphere saw blue skies and temperatures in the 80s on Wednesday as his window of opportunity to get one-half of the sculpture ready to be loaded on Thursday.

“Everything went well and we were able to send it down the road,” he said.

The massive stainless-steel arcs were lined up in a field just down the hill from Lamphere’s studio near the intersection of Pleasant Valley Road and Fort Meade Way south of Sturgis.

It took three semi-trailer trucks with specialized trailers to haul the long and heavy loads, Lamphere said.

“We will be able to go right down the interstate because we’ve got everything under height and just slightly over width,” he said.

Lamphere has been working on Arc of Dreams for about six years including while he was finishing his popular Dignity sculpture which stands on a hill overlooking the Missouri River at Chamberlain.

Lamphere’s Arc of Dreams was fabricated at a metalworks shop in Denver. He hand-polished the entire steel structure while the pieces were still in the shop.

The pieces were then trucked back to Sturgis where Lamphere has been putting on the finishing touches.

“We have been working here since before Christmas,” he said. “We’ve applied all the helix, support pipes and colored elements since then here in Pleasant Valley.”

Lamphere has done some innovative use of materials and methods on the sculpture. The areas that appear to be golden on the sculpture are mirror polished stainless steel with titanium nitrate coating.

“That was developed during World War II to coat optical equipment like binoculars and such to keep it them from being etched by field conditions. It’s a real tough finish,” he said.

The final resting place for the Arc of Dreams will be the Big Sioux River in downtown Sioux Falls. Firmly anchored on both banks, two graceful 150-foot arcs will stand 70 feet above the water. The 30-ton arcs gradually taper to an 18-foot synapse between their tips.

“The foundation and footings are all perfectly sound,” Lamphere said. “We went down 30 feet and drilled into the quartzite bedrock and epoxied enormous pins in there. We’re confident that it will stand.”

Lamphere said the Arc of Dreams project may be the biggest challenge he has faced in his career.

“I’m grateful for my 50 years of experience,” he said.

Is the sculpture appearing as Lamphere had envisioned?

“They always change in the course of creation,” he said. “It’s the length of a football field, so it is hard to wrap your mind around that kind of size.”

Lamphere, who serves as South Dakota’s artist laureate, has long been known for his organic approach to art. Arc of Dreams is no different.

“It’s really based on nature. The initial curve of it is a blade of grass that I found – brome grass unfortunately – but with a beautiful sweep and that established the curvature of the piece,” he said.

He continued by mimicking nature in the way he put the pieces together.

“Grass has an outer sheath which grows up a certain distance and terminates, then another smaller diameter stem will come out of that and terminate. It goes on and on,” he said.

Lamphere has done that with 11 different sizes of metal tubing.

“Each one is inserted about two foot into the previous one,” he said. “It makes it tremendously strong structure. That’s why we are able to hang 30 tons out 150 feet.”

The Arc of Dreams is a program of SculptureWalk Sioux Falls.

Jim Clark, SculptureWalk founder and the thrust behind the Arc of Dreams, said it takes a big and unique idea to pay tribute to dreamers of the past and present, and inspire dreamers for generations to come, and the Arc of Dreams does just that. At the center of the Arc of Dreams is the 18-foot gap which represents the leap of faith dreamers take to see their dreams come true.

“It will become a signature piece of art for the city of Sioux Falls, helping to illustrate what we want to be … a unique and thriving modern city on the prairie. But first, you have to take a leap of faith,” he said.

It is anticipated that the dedication of Arc of Dreams will be in early July.

Lamphere said the Arc of Dreams celebrates and describes a process everyone goes through in their lifetime.

“The ‘Arc of Dreams’ is the hopeful path our dreams take as they enter our consciousness, are defined by our intellect, and are ultimately entrusted to our faith in the future,” he said. “And at some point, it requires a leap of faith to make our dreams a reality.”

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