A New Frisco Park Features a Butterfly Net Installation | Dallas Observer

A 'Butterfly Stop' Art Installation Takes Center Stage at Frisco’s New Kaleidoscope Park

Butterfly chasers will love the new installation at Frisco's Kaleidoscope Park, a high-tech resting spot for monarch butterflies.
Leave your cottage-core butterfly net at home, because a Frisco Park found a much better way to attract monarch butterflies.
Leave your cottage-core butterfly net at home, because a Frisco Park found a much better way to attract monarch butterflies. Artist rendering courtesy of Kaleidoscope Park
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A new sculpture titled "Butterfly Rest Stop" hangs high in the air at Frisco’s new Kaleidoscope Park.

The work was created by famed sculptor and fabric artist Janet Echelman to highlight the monarch butterflies who use North Texas as a pit stop during their yearly migration.

The project is a collaboration between Hall Park, the Kaleidoscope Park Foundation, the Communities Foundation of Texas and the City of Frisco.

“Frisco is well known for our public-private partnerships,” says Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney. “That's the model we've used to, you know, really build out the entire city from the Star to the PGA Toyota Stadium, and certainly with Craig Hall at Hall Park.”

Hall Park was developed by the Hall Group, led by philanthropist and entrepreneur Craig Hall, and has funded many art projects in the past, like the Texas Sculpture Garden, the largest private collection of contemporary Texas sculptures available to the public.

The new sculpture is a net suspended over the Park’s Art Plaza. The net is made of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fibers, similar to those used by NASA for the Mars Rover, to form the shape of the sculpture, which resembles flowers viewed from above.

The net is anchored to the ground by pylons, the tallest of which is 65 feet in the air.

The scale of the sculpture is hard to take in. The netting that composes the structure is made of almost 90 miles of fiber, and 791,788 knots tied by hand and by mechanized loom.

It’s a combination of old-world net-building techniques, like fishermen would have used, and new-age technology, like Echelman’s proprietary modeling software used by the team of engineers, architects, designers, artists and fabricators she works with to design the project. The modeling software can show how the hanging twine will fall when gravity is applied.

Science and Nature

The sculpture intersects the fields of engineering, urban design, art, natural science and personal experience.

An installation this size has to go through the city's building permit process.

“Most people think, ‘Oh well, art, that’s in a different category,’” says Echelman. “But in fact, I have to build these to the same building code criteria that an architect builds a skyscraper.”

The sculpture looks red, but in different lighting conditions can appear to be different colors. In the bright sun, for example, it looks like an array of reds, oranges and yellows. It highlights and reacts to the nature surrounding it; no viewing of the sculpture is the same, and it can change based on the conditions of the nearby environment.

“I’m inviting us to think about how a butterfly sees the world,” says Echelman. “Their vision is different than ours. They can see ultraviolet wavelengths of light that we cannot see.”

While the sculpture is meant to evoke the flowers that attract the monarch butterflies, the surrounding native flora and milkweed plants create a space for the butterflies to stop and pollinate on their annual migration. Like the name says, it’s literally a butterfly rest stop.

“We are making sure that we create and protect these pollinator corridors,” says Echelman. “So it is both art and also a practical way that we sustain these butterflies. And I hope that every year, the work draws the monarch to it — to feed on the milkweed that is part of the artwork as well as the colorful braided twine in the sky.”

The broader project, Kaleidoscope Park, comprises six acres of multi-use recreational area in Frisco, next to the Cowboys’ Ford Center at the Star practice complex. The park includes public art installations, dog parks, children’s play areas and lawns for performances, as well as WiFi-enabled pavilions — or “tech terraces” — for workers who might want to work outside when it’s cooler.

One of the most important factors for Echelman is the visitor’s experience when they see the installation. In her eyes, the artwork isn’t complete until the viewer has seen and experienced it.

“That’s what my work is about,” says Echelman. “It’s that whole experience. It’s not complete without you [the viewer].”

The sculpture, at its core, represents the interconnections between many different elements, like fibers, the natural world, urban design, the viewer and others.

“This is work that is about interconnectedness of you and me and all of our interconnectedness with other human beings and with nature and with the built environment,” says Echelman. “[And] when you watch the sculpture billow and change when the wind blows, it is reminding us of the truth that we are all interconnected.”

Kaleidoscope Park, 6635 Warren Parkway, Frisco. Grand opening: Oct. 5, 2024.
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