Every time 5-year-old Acelynn King's family car passes the "Field of Corn (with Osage Orange Trees)" in Dublin she rolls down her window and yells at the rows of white concrete cobs.

"Hey, corn, you're naked!" she yells. "Get a girl dress or a boy dress, come on!"

Of all the reactions to the public art installation over its 25-year history -- and there have been many -- that might be the most original.

The Dublin Arts Council dedicated the installation at the intersection of Frantz and Rings roads Oct. 30, 1994, drawing a crowd of about 300 people.

On Sept. 28 the arts council threw "Field of Corn" a 25th birthday party. Hundreds of people gathered to eat kettle corn and birthday cake, play cornhole games and enjoy other activities.

Also on hand was Columbus sculptor Malcolm Cochran, who created the installation.

Marveling at the size of the crowd, Cochran, 70, recalled the decidedly mixed reaction that greeted announcement of his design after the arts council awarded him the commission.

Some considered the installation a waste of taxpayers' dollars (it cost $70,000). The late Mike Harden, who was a Dispatch columnist, poked fun, calling it "Cornhenge."

"It's an example of how, with public art, there can initially be pushback and it's not understood," Cochran said, "but then it's embraced."

Kathy Lannan, who has lived in Dublin since 1991, personified that evolution.

"I'm kind of a frugal person, and I was like, 'Why are they spending all this money on this thing?' " she said, recalling her initial reaction. "But then, I was always riding my bike past it, and it really grew on me. Now I think it's a neat thing to have."

Cochran addressed the crowd Sept. 28, then led an informal walking tour of the field, explaining his concept and details of the design.

When he first stood in the field, he said, he was drawn to the line of Osage orange trees bordering its west side. He deduced perhaps they had divided two farm fields.

"That was the key to unlock an idea," he said.

At the time, he said, Dublin was "on the cusp" of shifting from an agricultural town to a service city. Nearby cornfields were for sale and housing was rapidly going up all around.

"So I began to think of this as a memorial to the agricultural history of the site," Cochran said.

The corn is white, he said, because that's the color of monuments, as well as the rows of gravestones in national cemeteries.

Cochran said Dublin officials had stated they wanted the site to be a "drive-by" attraction rather than a place for picnics and recreation.

But Cochran said he suspected the public would find ways to get out and interact with his installation, and he was right.

"People have been married there, or have their prom pictures taken there," said David Guion, executive director of the Dublin Arts Council. "They just use it as a jumping-off point to really have fun."

Cochran said he once stopped by in winter and saw that someone had made a number of snow angels in the field.

On Sept. 28, children ran through the rows of corn. One boy climbed a cob and sat on top of it. Others measured themselves against the 6-foot-tall ears.

Cochran said he noticed a turning point in the public perception of "Field of Corn" in 2000, when officials at the nearby Mall at Tuttle Crossing used a photo of the field in its marketing brochures.

Now, Guion said, the installation has become iconic, used to define Dublin, "and I'm fine with that."

Eric and Christina King, Acelynn's parents, moved to Dublin in 2008. Christina King said she always liked "Field of Corn" and was puzzled when she heard people making fun of it.

"I didn't understand why, because it's neat," she said. "It's art, it's community art and it's something that's needed. Otherwise, this would just be an ordinary intersection."

kgordon@dispatch.com

@kgdispatch

Sculptor Malcolm Cochran of Columbus is interviewed Sept. 28 by a news crew about his creation, "Field of Corn (with Osage Orange Trees)" in Dublin.

FRED SQUILLANTE/THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH