The Sound of Music
Photography: Douglas Burke
An 8-year-old boy confirmed Carol Potter’s intuition that a sound garden was a great addition to Park City’s attractions for kids and adults alike. After performing musical riffs on several of the larger-than-life instruments in the new Park City Sound Garden, the boy told Potter, “I can bring my mom and dad here, and we can ride our bikes all the way!”
Music to the ears for Potter, who is the executive director of Mountain Trails Foundation, one of the sponsors of the sound garden, located just south of the skate facility in City Park. “A lot of my mission is making the Park City trails system unique,” said Potter. She recruited Frank Youngman from her hometown of Cadillac, Michigan, as artist-in-residence to design and build the garden structures. A self-designated “musical activist,”
Youngman had already constructed two sound gardens in Michigan, one built in the woods near his home. Potter often walked Park City’s Poison Creek Trail through City Park and thought it would be the perfect site for Youngman’s unique interpretation of public art and performance. Visitors could walk and bike to it in summer, or plan an in-town snowshoeing trek to the garden in winter. When she approached our city council with her idea, she received overwhelming support for the project. “Jim Hier [city councilman] said, ‘You had me at hello’ and Dana [Williams, mayor] loved the idea,” she said.
Youngman visited Park City during his 2005 spring break [he teaches band to middle and high school students in Michigan], developed an initial concept, and then returned in the summer to complete construction. “I haven’t had any training at this. I’ve just always liked creating,” said Youngman. “Let’s just say I’m doing what I like to do.”
The rustic musical structures in the garden use wooden supporting beams taken from trestles in the Great Salt Lake, and are constructed using recycled brake drums and ironwood posts as chimes for the musical pieces. One construction includes a piano sound board once owned by the late Brian Hess, former executive director of the Park City/Summit County Arts Council, a co-sponsor of the sound garden.
Youngman credits Potter with having the vision to bring the sound garden to Park City. He said to her, “Your work and support has made it all happen; otherwise I’d still be out in our woods, pounding on logs.”