Public Art Committee seeks sculptures to fill corridor

Gary B. Gray • Dec 2, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Pablo Picasso once said the following: “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

The Johnson City Public Art Committee wants to lease 11 sculptures from artists and install them along the path on State of Franklin Road from East Tennessee State University to the planned Tupelo Honey restaurant.

The committee, which officially formed in August 2010, assembled one year later at the Millennium Centre to gather input about what kinds of visual improvements people would like to see at city parks, on or near city buildings and on walkways and pedestrian corridors. About 200 guests listened as guidelines for the committee’s master plan were laid out.

“It is our hope that implementation of the plan will expand over time and become a centerpiece for understanding our community by both our citizens and visitors,” Anita DeAngelis, a committee member who also is an artist and administrator at East Tennessee State University, said at the time.

The Public Art Corridor will mesh with a larger greenway plan that includes Founders Park. Donations will be used to compensate chosen artists who will receive $2,000 for each pice of art. The art will be on display for 18 months and the greenway itself will include areas of pollinator plants and sites for public art, in addition to functional items such as benches, planters, educational kiosks, and bike racks.

The Selection Committee will consider a variety of media for this project. Materials chosen must be durable and able to withstand hot summers, cold winters, rain, wind and snow. Electricity is available at some of the proposed sites. Artists and designers must present examples of previous artwork/projects that demonstrate experience with the chosen media.

The style of the sculpture should be original and take into account the features of Johnson City. The project also must be of a scale large enough to be seen from the street and should provide a clearly visible marker.

The guest curator for this year’s exhibition will be sculptor and Professor Emeritus Steve Bickley. Bickley taught sculpture and design for 34 years at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and has more than 30 years of professional experience as a fabricator and conservator of large-scale works. His works have been included in more than 100 regional and national exhibitions.

The selected artists must also meet the approval of the Public Art Committee, which will review all final entry submissions and make recommendations to the City Commission for final approval.

Artists are responsible for transportation of their work to and from the site and are encouraged to be on site to oversee installation. However, artists will not be responsible for the cost of installation and site preparation. In addition, city workers will be on site and will make available any heavy equipment requirements such as a crane or forklift to assist artists during installation.

Upon the successful installation of selected sculpture, the artist and/or team will receive a $2,000 stipend for the 18-month lease, and hotel accommodations for two nights.

Sale of the piece, either while on exhibit or within six months after, will require the artist to pay the city 20 percent of the sale price. Also, when the exhibit period has ended, the Public Art Committee may recommend one or more works be purchased by the city for inclusion in its permanent collection.

The committee also is seeking proposals for an art project that incorporates identifying signage for the new Founders Park retention pond project downtown. The artwork must withstand varied environmental conditions, including occasional high water. The budget for this project is $50,000.

The park will eventually become integrated into what has been referred to as the city’s greenway plan, a zone of property between downtown Johnson City and the campus of ETSU that would include patches of pollinator plants, sites for public art, as well as functional art — benches, planters, educational kiosks and bike racks.

Opportunities for community events include art workshops and workshops on native plants and animals, using Brush Creek as an outdoor classroom for children. The new Johnson City Farmers Market will be positioned nearby. So far, several potential donors have come forward.

As the committee took its “baby steps in 2010 and 2011,” members pledged not to pigeonhole themselves into thinking they must duplicate similar programs in Bristol and Kingsport, and members have been doing a lot of research since that time.

An exploratory committee was formed by members of the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at ETSU, the Reece Museum, Johnson City Area Arts Council, Nelson Fine Arts Gallery, the city’s parks and recreation department and Holt Photography. The result was a 12-member committee.

For an application guideline, sculpture requirements and exhibition dates, go to www.johnsoncitytn.org/art/projects. For more information, call Public Works Director Phil Pindzola at 434-6080 or email ppindzola@johnsoncitytn.org. Include artist/team name and phone number in all correspondence. Corridor map and site photos are available at www.johnsoncitytn.org/art.

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