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Hit the Road with Chet Garner

Something Fishy

Lampasas sculpture garden gets feet—and minds—meandering

For centuries folks have flocked to Lampasas to take a dip in natural springs that supposedly possess life-giving properties. I’m not sure they can heal the sick, but they seem to have stimulated creativity and inspired artists to fill a small city park with larger-than-life sculptures.

When I cruised through Lampasas, I discovered all the trappings of a charming Texas town—a historic courthouse, inviting businesses and the sort of pie that makes your eyes roll back in your head. But then I discovered something that I’ve never seen in any small town: an old rusty truck laden with a giant metal catfish stretching from the windshield to beyond the tailgate. I needed an explanation.

Chet stands in front of an old truck with a giant catfish in the bed

Chet finds himself hooked on the funky art at Hanna Springs Sculpture Garden.

Courtesy Chet Garner

Apparently I had stumbled upon the Hanna Springs Sculpture Garden that fills Campbell Park. The city built the park around Hanna Springs, which pushes crystal clear and pungent-smelling—like an old shoe—water out of the ground and into a large pool. The sulfur spring is stunning to see—and smell.

In 2005 the Lampasas Association for the Arts decided it was time to add a little more flash to the underutilized park. The group commissioned three artists to carve large limestone sculptures. There’s a couch, a gateway and one that’s … open to interpretation. After this, the creativity started to flow faster than the springs. The sculpture garden now boasts more than 20 sculptures ranging from abstract spinning shapes to a painted tractor that kids can climb on. The fun comes in walking through the garden and letting your mind wander along with your feet.

It’s the sort of unexpected delight you find when you hit the road, and it defies the stereotype that art is just for big-city galleries. In fact, some of the best art can be found in the great outdoors of small-town Texas.