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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

Kingsport Launches Sculpture Walk Exhibit

"Hello...Goodbye" (locust wood, deck screws, preservative stain) by Charlie Brouwer, Willis, Va.
Additional photos below »

Infusing art into the Community

May 29, 2007

KINGSPORT, Tenn. — Downtown Kingsport is beginning to look a little different. Thanks to the efforts of Kingsport's Public Arts Committee, the first of 10 outdoor sculptures was installed on May 10. Additional pieces are scheduled for installation May 30-31. Beginning May 31, the city will kick off a year-long Sculpture Walk Exhibition with installations along Main Street and Broad Street, including the plaza at the Kingsport Public Library.

Guides to the privately funded exhibition will be available at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce. The project is co-sponsored by the City of Kingsport's Cultural Arts Division and is funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endow-ment for the Arts.

The Public Arts Committee, created in 2006 by Kingsport's Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA), is in charge of overseeing and advocating art in public places. According to Bonnie Macdonald, Kingsport's cultural arts administrator, the first initiative of the committee was placing art in public places — sculptures in City Hall and at the Kingsport Renaissance Center. Those were recently replaced with an exhibit from East Tennessee State University's Carroll Reece Museum and the Gray Fossil Site.

Percent for Art

The city's Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a funding mechanism for the Public Arts Committee where one percent of a capital improvement project's contingency fund — up to $25,000 — would go toward funding public art displays. To date, the committee has received $4,800 from two projects.

Macdonald says Nashville allocates one percent of its general obligation bonds for public art..."and you can see it in their community. It becomes infused in what they do."

She says the plan is to save funds over a number of years, build up a pool of money, purchase or rent pieces of art, and display them in various places around town. The first project on the list will be a mural at the Riverview Splash Pad. Last year Kingsport demolished an old swimming pool at the V.O. Dobbins Center and replaced it with a safari-themed splash pad. The splash pad features water cannons that look like jungle animals, a sprinkler that looks like a palm tree, and an air-brushed painting of a tiger.

The Public Arts Committee plans to commisison a four-sided safari mural to be painted around a building adjacent to the splash pad. "It's a vibrant mural that will be the icing on top of the cake," Macdonald says. "It's going to be a magnet for kids all over the community. We're really excited about it."

She said Kingsport's move to create and fund a public art committee is a positive thing for the community: "Not many cities the size of Kingsport have this type of commitment for public art. Nashville does, Chattanooga does, Memphis does and now Kingsport does," Macdonald adds. "There is lot of potential for infusing art in our community, but this isn't the ultimate vision, just a great place to start. We look forward to incorporating more artists and having art in other places."

"The Four Elements" (stainless steel and bronze) by Hanna Jubran, Grimesland, NC.