The Beulah Park Memorial Sculpture

A gift to the Grove City Community from The Investors of Beulah Park Living

Please join us on Friday, September 17th at 4:00 PM for A Dedication Ceremony as we gift “And They’re Off” to the Grove City Community. This event will be held at Columbus Street and Beulah Park Way. ALL ARE INVITED. This event will kick off the 42nd Annual Arts in the Alley Festival and The Voice of Grove City Vocal Competition.

“And They’re Off” celebrates the spirit and history of Beulah Park, Ohio’s first thoroughbred racetrack and premier event center (1923 – 2014). The sculpture, designed and created by Craig W. Murdick, is intended to capture the energy and excitement that comes with the start of a race.

“This is a community identification piece. A focal point for Grove City. An extension of the historic Town Center and a hallmark of this transformation. It was also an opportunity to give back. A meaningful way to contribute to the quality of life in this community.” – Beulah Park Developer Pat Kelley.

We sat down with artist Craig W. Murdick to capture some of the details.

“And They’re Off” is meant to capture the excitement at the very beginning of a race, the moment the horses leap through the open gates. Take us through your thought process to select this moment and how it translates to the new, diverse living community coming to life all around it. Race art often shows horses running down a track or crossing the finish line, all of which can be great, but I wanted to capture something that was more representative of the place than horses alone.  The start of a race at Beulah Park was exceptional.  Showing the gate structure itself memorializes the place, and the start of a race is so full of energy and excitement.  It’s a new beginning just as Beulah Park living is a community with a new beginning.

This sculpture was built to last using 12,000 pounds of Corten Steel and a complex anchor system. What are some of the other interesting details? The steel was laser cut from 3/8” thick weathering steel (or Corten).  The complex anchoring system in the wall allowed the front legs of the horses to cantilever providing the appearance of movement and energy.

-The wall provides a backdrop to allow the sculpture to pop out and it allowed the embedment of the structural system that anchors the horses

-The scratched horse – the empty gate is in keeping with the fact that often a horse is disqualified just before the start of a race.  The empty gate in this case also allowed the placement of a light that casts an interesting shadow at night.

-The sand is from the original Beulah Park race track. The owners had the foresight to save some of the original track sand for re-use and is perfect for the track of the sculpture.

– The assistant starters – these are the people who help get the horses into the gate. In designing this sculpture, it occurred to me by looking at photos that there were people jammed in behind the horses. So we added assistant starters to the sculpture. They help complete the story. 

– Corten Steel is a weathering steel. It will rust to a point and then essentially stop rusting. That patina is its own protection from future rusting. It should still be here 100 years from now. 

Public art is being recognized for its ability to enhance a city’s quality of life. How do you see this sculpture creating a deeper connection between the community and its environment? Public art should tell a story.  This sculpture tells a story and stories provide connection to a time and place.  It is that connection that is so important and enriches a community.