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Artist shares vision for Heber park with 70+ sculptures

One of the statues that will be installed shows
Monument of the Americas
One of the statues that will be installed shows Moroni and George Washington together.

The artist who’s spearheading plans for a Book of Mormon-themed sculpture garden shared his progress with the Heber City Council Tuesday, April 16.

Sculptor Steven Neal says he moved to Heber specifically to build the Monument of the Americas, a privately-funded park to celebrate the Book of Mormon and the founding of the United States.

“We’ve looked at lots of different sites, and Heber is the most ideal place we’ve ever found,” he told councilmembers Tuesday.

The now-retired plastic surgeon has been working on the statues, which he says came to him in a vision, for 29 years.

Neal said the art puts stories from the Book of Mormon alongside stories from the country’s founding.

“Those who are familiar with the Book of Mormon know that it talks about the founding of America – that it was a divine event,” he said. “What a lot of people don’t know is that George Washington had a Moroni moment [at] the end of 1776, and so I parallel those two.”

He said there will be more than a dozen sculptures in a part of the park that will be called the “American Covenant Garden.”

“We want to make sure that people understand that our founding fathers were very religious people, and they ascribed their actions to God,” Neal said.

Elsewhere in the park, sculptures will depict religious scenes, like Nephi’s vision of America and Jesus teaching his disciples.

A total of 71 statues are planned, 18 of which have already been funded by donors. There will also be 20 bronze bas-relief panels showing scenes from the Book of Mormon.

Mayor Heidi Franco thanked the artist for choosing Heber City as the home for his art and told him she was “astounded” by his vision.

“I can’t tell you how inspirational that quality of art is. It’s just stunning and beautiful,” she said. “I won’t have to go to New York and Chicago to the art museums anymore. We’ll be able to have it right here.”

A local developer donated private land to Neal and his team so the sculptures can be installed adjacent to the future Heber Valley arts district, north of the city near Utah Valley University’s Wasatch campus. The city council heard Neal’s presentation because of the park’s proximity to the planned public arts district.

The whole park will be funded by private donors. Neal said admission will be by suggested donation; he doesn’t want cost to prevent people from visiting.

More information about the future Christ in America Legacy Park can be found on the project’s website. An opening date hasn’t yet been announced.