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story.lead_photo.caption Taking Attendance, a bronze sculpture of a male American Lab by Idaho artist Ken Newman, guards the Heights Roundabout in Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY)

In Little Rock, the male Labrador retriever stares over his back at traffic entering the Heights roundabout from McKinley Street.

No collar and no tags, but he's no stray. He's Taking Attendance, a bronze sculpture by Ken Newman of Cambridge, Idaho.

The animal's pose embodies a moment in a great relationship between a mature Lab and its owner, Newman said Wednesday from Idaho. "They don't go too far without hesitating and looking back to see where you're at, make sure you're coming and everything's OK."

The idea came to him while he was viewing a video in which an elderly Lab, soon to die of cancer, paused often to look back at her owner and a puppy, which was a black streak crossing the scene.

"That brought back a flood memories for me about my own relationships with my dogs," he said. "I encourage them to be out in front. I don't want them behind me or really at my side unless it's under command."

The piece isn't modeled on the Lab in the video or Newman's own female Lab. He's an "iconic" male, Newman said, and "non-neutered. Physically big. He's based off the old traditional American Lab. There are two Labs in America: the British one, with a little shorter legs and a tankier body; and the American has a little longer legs. But the old traditional had that nice, wonderful, square, flat head."

The sculpture captures "just that moment of energy, and he's checking. There's an intensity to him. And some of the sportsmen will connect to it. It's the look the dog will give you when you miss your intended target."

The Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden has Newman's Forever Ready, another bronze Lab.

City Director Dean Kumpuris and Jane Rogers of Sculpture at the River Market arranged for the artwork to be placed in June, with its $20,000 cost to be split among their committee, the Heights Neighborhood Association and the Lanterns Oversight Committee. Rogers wrapped the dog with an outsize and sparkly pink bow for its first week.

Landscaped by Good Earth Garden Center, the roundabout links Kavanaugh Boulevard, Richard B. Hardie Drive, McKinley Street and Pine Valley Road. The dog is not set dead center in the circle but toward its McKinley edge.

"If you walk the site, it is certainly level, but three of the streets that feed into that site are not at grade. You're coming uphill," Kumpuris said. The circle thus divides visually into three areas, and the neighborhood plans to install two more sculptures on it, eventually.

Art is "an enhancement to the roundabout and the neighborhood, so that's what we planned on having there — at some point," said Norman Hodges, president of the neighborhood association. "We didn't plan on having it there as quickly, but thanks to Dr. Kumpuris and his group" the plan is moving ahead.

"We raise all of the money that we spend," Kumpuris said. "The idea of partnering with a group that could also help raise the money lets us spread our money that we raise further. ... It's just a way to get art spread all the way through the city."

The city built the traffic circle but did not provide for landscaping. "We raised about $32,000 to do the landscaping and we only have $2,700 of that left," Hodges said. The association could not use the $100,000 bequest it received in 2018 from the estate of Linda Garner Riggs. According to the association website, her will provided "plants and flowers" specifically in the business area of the Heights, defining its boundaries as University Avenue on the west, Van Buren Street on the east, Kavanaugh on the north and Cantrell Road on the south. The traffic circle is outside that area.

The neighborhood association will consider at its next meeting how to raise its part of the cost of the dog, Hodges said.

More information is at heightslittlerock.com.

[RELATED: Where Is It?]

Style on 06/24/2019

Print Headline: Where Is It Answer

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