The House of Spirits riverbox installed in Scioto Park last weekend was inspired by a "haunted house," the mail and an Indonesian tradition.

The House of Spirits riverbox installed in Scioto Park last weekend was inspired by a "haunted house," the mail and an Indonesian tradition.

The artwork by Mark Soppeland, a professor at the University of Akron, was the last of three new riverboxes that have been installed; the Dublin Arts Council will release information on the locations of the new boxes on Sept. 11.

Soppeland, who has created around 45 public art projects, said House of Spirits "is an artist's interpretation of a post office box."

"It's for all those secret art messages," he said last Saturday while wheeling his creation into Scioto Park, 7377 Riverside Drive.

Soppeland is a found-objects artist, which becomes clear when looking at the intricacies of House of Spirits. The keys, copper cutouts and other various items covering the artwork are the accumulation of 30 years of garage and estate sales.

"I am a great accumulator, or terrible if you ask my wife, of things," Soppeland said. "A big part of art is the search. I spend a tremendous amount of time searching for things."

The House of Spirits' hideaway, surrounded by trees in Scioto Park, was part of the inspiration, said Soppeland, who pointed out a dilapidated house that sits outside the park's boundaries but barely can be seen through the trees.

After touring the park with someone from the arts council and a member of Dublin's parks and open space department, Soppeland said he settled on the location because of the collapsing house outside the park.

"If ever there was a haunted house, that is it," he said.

The house also reminded Soppeland of an Indonesian tradition.

"Each house in Indonesia has a small, fancier model outside for the spirits to live in," he said. "They think the spirits will want to live in the fancier house. This is your spirit house."

With the help of his students from the University of Akron, Soppeland also filled the spirit house with pieces of "mail art" including handmade post cards, illustrated letters and envelopes.

"This was their first assignment," Soppeland said.

The art in the House of Spirits ranges from playful to creepy, with artwork depicting a scary forest and an origami butterfly.

"I try to get my students involved in as many projects as possible," Soppeland said. "One of the things we try to do is get students engaged in the real process."

The riverboxes helped introduce Dublin to letterboxing and geocaching. Clues to find the riverboxes include GPS coordinates, historic facts and directions around the parks. The riverboxes hold a journal and stamp for people to mark their own journals and let others know they've been there.

In addition to stamping the notebook contained in the riverbox, Soppeland hopes the explorers leave their own "mail art" in the House of Spirits.

"People can come in and take their time and discover this," he said.

The House of Spirits is the second riverbox at Scioto Park -- it joins the Big Turtle Riverbox -- and Soppeland said he enjoyed working on the project.

"The whole process has been very interesting and unlike anything else I've been involved in," he said.

"This is a great park. There is already some great existing art," he added. "Chief Leatherlips is already a piece of art to compete with."

For more information on riverboxes, look online at