NEWBURYPORT — The Bartlet Mall Commission has finalized plans to bring a massive metal art exhibit to the Bartlet Mall in August. Created by sculptor Dale Rogers of Haverhill, the exhibit will consist of 20 steel dogs, each weighing about 500 pounds, placed artfully around the Frog Pond.
The exhibit is a celebration of Newburyport’s 250th anniversary. Newburyport was incorporated as a town in 1764, more than 120 years after its initial settlement.
Set for Aug. 15 through Aug. 24, the event will feature group dog walks and an appearance by Rogers himself on opening night. The exhibition is partly a salute to the dog culture of Newburyport, which has more than 2,000 registered dogs, according to commission chairman Walt Thompson.
“We like dogs and dog owners, and this will be here for a limited time, so it adds a little color and pleasure to the great quality of life we have here in Newburyport,” he said.
The Barlet Mall Commission is a public volunteer organization dedicated to maintaining The Mall and Frog Pond for the public good.
The commission is currently soliciting donations to cover the $5,800 cost of the exhibition, about $1,500 of which has already been recovered, Thompson said. Members of the commission have set up a system of sponsorship whereby businesses can pay $500 to put their name on a collar around one of the dogs’ necks, or a smaller amount for a sign at the exhibit.
Rogers created the sculptures in 2009 in the spirit of public service. As an artist whose primary focus is on large-scale abstract art, most of his clients are wealthy individuals and organizations, he said. Rogers wanted to expand his art to better suit the public.
“I don’t think that art is just for the wealthy, I think it’s for everyone,” he said. “I love the large-scale abstract, but I didn’t do that if I was going to be doing a public exhibition. You really have to make a sculptural piece that’s iconic and that people are familiar with ... That’s why I ended up on dogs.”