Will Park City be the next home for a labyrinth?
April 21, 2009
For people who tend to meet dead ends with bulldozers rather than contemplatively turning around, a determined group of local women is urging the Public Art Advisory Board to implement a labyrinth in Summit County.
Labyrinths are garden-like circular pathways meant to signify walkers’ inner journeys to the center, self, or the crux of a problem. Often confused with mazes, labyrinths offer only one path, in and out, that draw on intuition rather than logic or critical thinking.
The concept, although ancient, has gained popularity in recent years. Labyrinths already exist on the University of Utah campus and Jordan River Parkway, in St. George, Holladay, Ivins, South Valley and Cedar City, among other places in Utah.
Some of the structures are replicas of an 11-circuit labyrinth built in Chartres Cathedral in France during the middle ages. Mary Wintzer, who is leading the effort to build a labyrinth on public land in Summit County, was first introduced to the idea during a visit to Grace Cathedral, an Episcopal Church in San Francisco.
The church has an outdoor labyrinth, made of stone, and a matching indoor path made of limestone.
Summit County’s labyrinth would fall in step with the holistic health philosophy already practiced here, Wintzer said. "It’s not just aerobic fitness but emotional and spiritual fitness," she explained last week. "You’re looking for a sense of peace when you start walking the path." The journey to the center of the labyrinth is meant to signify an internal unwinding.
Recommended Stories For You
Wintzer first approached the art advisory board three years ago to ask to implement a labyrinth. She envisions the labyrinth at least 17 feet in diameter and, ideally, built out of stone in Old Town. She named Coalition Park, at the corner of Park Avenue and Main Street, as one potential spot, but she would also consider the Redstone development and elsewhere outside Park City. Easy access to the structure, preferably by foot, remains a priority, Wintzer said.
Local artists and community members could adorn the labyrinth with painted benches or tiles, as they have at other labyrinths in Utah.
Joining Wintzer in her campaign are Debra Cole, Mary Demkowicz, Nancy Garbett, Claire Marlin, Debbie Sewell, Annette Sneed and Kim Stein.
In its most rudimentary form, the labyrinth doesn’t have to be a permanent structure and requires simply leveling and clearing the ground to make way for stones. "We know that funding is tight, and we’re prepared to raise the money," Wintzer said. "What we’re asking for is space on public land."
Wintzer applied to the Public Art Advisory Board in November and the project will likely be discussed in the near future, board members say.
A labyrinth in Oakley
Donna Falls of Oakley built her labyrinth, which is 40 feet in diameter, four years ago with the help of friends from Park City Community Church. When she was first introduced to the idea, Falls rebuffed labyrinths. "It just looked like a big circle," she said.
Today, Falls said she has seen the healing power of the structures. She invites people to walk her labyrinth’s stone embankments. Some who come are battling cancer. Others have lost a loved one. "Most people who come, there’s a curiosity," Falls said. "People need a place to be quiet, to tell their story. I’m here as a resource for people."
Falls responded enthusiastically to Wintzer’s idea of putting a labyrinth on public property. "I think that would be wonderful," she said. "For me, it’s about awareness. When we’re able to process issues in a calm, quiet way" we are more likely to reach a suitable solution, she said. They are calming for older people as well as children, she said. "People usually think labyrinths are an adult thing, but it’s really for anyone."