Have you ever noticed how much art is around downtown Rockford right now?

I've been taking my dogs for walks on what I've called "The Rockford Loop" for a couple of weeks now. I start at Nichols Conservatory and head south down the bike path. Cross the river at State. Head back north up the river. Cross the Whitman bridge and head back to the conservatory. The whole thing takes about an hour.

When I started, I was taken aback by how much art there was downtown. Some of it is new, some I remember from my childhood. I found myself actually looking forward to seeing some of the pieces again and then I decided to rank them in my head.

These are those ranking.

DISCLAIMER: I have done ZERO research on any of these pieces. If they mean something sentimental to you or someone else I apologize for saying anything less than flattering.

On to the rankings...

  • Joe Dredge

    15. These Herons

    These guys are on the west side of the river in front of the Burpee Museum. I'm not a big bird guy so these don't do anything for me. Plus they kind of scared my dog the first time we went by them so I think I may have taken that personally.

  • 2

    14. Beattie's 3-Beam Thing

    I'd like to remind everyone reading this that I've done zero research. Are these beams somewhat symbolic and related to the Beattie mounds? I don't know. What I do know is that I remember these from when I was a kid and just wanted to use it as a balance beam. It seems a bit haphazard and unruly like it was never quite finished.

  • Joe Dredge

    13. This Yellow Thing At The Discovery Center

    You can find this guy just south of the Discovery Center in front of what I think used to be an Armory? Again zero research for this. This guy gets credit for looking like different sculptures from different angles and not much else.

  • Joe Dredge

    12. This Gazebo

    This is our first structure on the list. Are structures art? Have you ever heard "Art is in the eye of the beholder?" (Might have paraphrased there.) In this blog, I'm the beholder and that's art.

    You can find this guy by Beattie Park on the west side of the river.

    Listen that's a beautiful picture but I don't let the surroundings affect my rankings. That's a decent gazebo (I think that's a gazebo at least) in a beautiful setting. I think 12 is justified.

  • Joe Dredge

    11. An Anchor

    This anchor rounds out the trio of art pieces at Beattie. I'm sure this has military significance that I'm unaware of so that will bump it up a little. But at the end of the day, it's an anchor. I've seen that before.

  • 6

    10. Joe Marino

    Mr. Fireworks himself, Joe Marino. This statue greets visitors as they enter Joe Marino Park just east of the river on State Street.

    I never knew Joe but he seemed like a great guy. This gets some demerits because they cast him posing with a pointed finger. Maybe pointing was Joe's thing? Not sure. What I do know is that it was firmly instilled in me when I was young to not point at people. So, whenever I see this statue I can only hear my dad admonishing him. Thanks for the fireworks though.

  • Joe Dredge

    9. Basketball Mosaics

    You can hoop it up on this Picasso-ish parquet right outside the YMCA by the river.

    I'm kind of a math and geometry nerd (thanks dad) so this one always fascinates me. A new coat of paint would definitely bump this to the top 5.

  • Joe Dredge

    8. This Alien Mural

    This one falls in the middle because it's kind of an incomplete evaluation. This is painted on the north side of the Jefferson bridge on the west side of the river.

    It's currently blocked off by a bunch of construction fences. I actually had to wrap my arm around some fences to get this picture.

    It needs some upkeep and I haven't really gotten a close look. Really looking forward to when the construction is done.

  • Joe Dredge

    7. Flappers

    This one is located right on the river behind the Luther Center on State Street. It's one of the more unique sculptures in town. I have NO idea what that name means though. If I were naming it I'd go with something like "2 Rats Kissing In A Sunburst" but that might be a little too on the nose.

  • 10

    6. Millennium Fountain

    Before you say anything, fountains are art.

    It was a hot day when we went through so there were a ton of kids playing in the water. It was just fun to see everyone having a great time AND it looks great. Win-win in my book.

    Shout out to that sign in the upper right-hand corner. It says "No Wading" in the fountain. Hilarious.

  • Joe Dredge

    5. The Painted Pillars

    That picture does these things zero justice. They are very impressive in person.

    You can find them holding up the Jefferson bridge on the east side of the river. They're awesome and kind of just pop up out of nowhere.

    I think this was part of the downtown mural project a couple of months ago. If you haven't seen these yet, make the trip.

  • Joe Dredge

    4. The Rock Men

    Probably the OG Rockford art for a bunch of folks. I remember finding out about these dudes when I was about 5 and thought they were the coolest things ever. They've been around for a while and are the kind of thing that is uniquely specific to Rockford.

  • Joe Dredge

    3 The Suspension Bridge

    Nothing to really say about this.

    It's a beautiful pedestrian suspension bridge, how many of those are there in the country.

    Pair that with the framing of our beautiful museum campus and that's a top-three entry folks.

  • Joe Dredge

    2. "Rockford" Mural

    Big fan of this guy. You'll find it on the north side of State Stree bridge on the east side of the river. Love the fact that it's kind of hidden in one of the busier parts of downtown.

    There's also a local legend that says you can't take a picture of it without accidentally getting a little bit of finger in the picture. I 100% proved that with my shot here. Spooky stuff guys.

  • 15

    1. This Wild Collection Of Stuff

    To quote Stefon from Saturday Night Live "This mural has everything."

    There's a hat-wearing octopus, an orca, a yellow submarine, dinosaur bones, other bones, sunglass-wearing buildings, plus about 50 other things that are hidden in there. It's like an urban Where's Waldo.

    If you want to check this out head down Madison and it's right underneath the Jefferson Bridge.

    Be safer than I was. I definitely almost got hit by a car taking this picture because I had to get it all in.

    It's majestic and should be enjoyed by everyone in town.