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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

AAME announces People's Choice Award for Art in Public Places competition

"Coke is Fun, II" by Marvin Tadlock.

By Angela Wampler | November 26, 2007

And the winner is....

Arts Alliance Mountain Empire (AAME) is pleased to announce that the People's Choice award for the 2007-2008 outdoor sculpture competition is "Coke is Fun II" by Marvin Tadlock, professor of art at Virginia Intermont College in Bristol.

Eight pieces, chosen from 26 entries from six states, have been placed at sites in and around downtown Bristol for a one-year exhibit. Tadlock's award-winning stainless steel sculpture is in front of Theatre Bristol on the Tennessee side of State Street near Fifth Street.

"I think this is a first for me. I've won several awards over the years, but never a People's Choice! So, I'm flattered!" Tadlock says.

The Artist's Statement

Tadlock says, "Being a sculptor is not unlike being a shaman — there is magic involved! Through the processes of lost-wax casting, plasma arc cutting and a myriad of welding techniques, I am able to freeze a moment of action or time in space — or at least make it appear that way. I enjoy depicting objects in the very process of falling, or being shattered, and freezing them precariously in space. While changing a static composition into an active one, the piece becomes exciting from all views rather than from a frontal view only. Indicating a passage of time can further heighten the illusion of action within a piece. In 'Coke is Fun II,' for example, the three Coke bottles are in the process of falling or being hit by the ball. The puddle-shaped base directly below the empty, bottom bottle enforces this feeling and — at the same time — ties the bottom and top of the sculpture together both visually and contextually."

A Dialogue about the Art

According to Ben Swihart, a member of AAME's Art in Public Places (AiPP) committee, "It's an interesting and important story that of all the artists selected across the country, Bristol's own Tadlock won. The People's Choice Award reflects the popular view of the AiPP project's works. We will need to lean on this designation in the future as a real measure of 'this is what Bristol likes' — a crucial factor in thinking about the future of public art in our town."

The juror for this competition was Vaughn Whitney Garland, co-founder/ co-curator of the Richmond Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, and a graduate of Emory & Henry College. Regarding the People's Choice award, A! Magazine for the Arts asked Garland the following questions:

A! Magazine: Does the fact that Tadlock won the People's Choice — by a landslide — mean that the community will support art more if it's made by a local artist?

Garland: Sometimes it is possible for a regional community to find an easier dialog with an artwork that comes from the same region and language. Much more than this, "Coke is Fun II" hits at the heartstring of a social icon. This known company [Coca-Cola] has done so much in our nation, and now the world, that when we see the symbol we know what it means and we find ourselves in a sort of pleasant memory of a time.

A!: Does it mean that we're blessed with one of the best sculptors among many in the area?

Garland: I think so. Many of the art works in Bristol are some of the best I have seen, and I think it speaks highly of the talent and drive in and around our mountain community.

A!: The people of Bristol voted overwhelmingly for Tadlock's sculpture. What is it about this piece that may resonate well?

Garland: As I was saying before, Tadlock uses a symbol extremely well to draw upon a time and a physical emotion. For example, when I first saw the sculpture during installation, I recalled a time in my own life when in the backwoods of Honduras I came across many children playing in the streets singing American pop tunes with a can of Coke in their hands. I remember thinking what kind of reach our culture has made across the world. The Coca-Cola Company is one of those things that we all can call upon with our own stories and memories.

A!: What can we learn from the process of evaluation in this way? Is it beneficial?

Garland: This process is extremely beneficial because of our dialog now. We are speaking the same language about an object. That is important, and "Coke is Fun II" allows us to approach each other with like minds.

A!: What is your favorite sculpture?

Garland: That is hard for me to say since I look at each piece as a part of a whole. I love, and get excited by, every artwork in the exhibition. The great thing about the works shown is that they are each completely different and stand on their own, or they may be a part of a larger conversation. Take for example, Tadlock's refreshing "Coke is Fun II" with Jacob DeCola's beautiful "Curved Form with Portholes" and William Harrington's grippingly comical "Deflowered Cannon," then Samuel Burnes' "Evolution in Gray" with Ben A. Jones' threatening "From the Belly of the Beast." Every piece has its own language and beauty which is what makes the show so special.

A!: Any further comments?

Garland: I just want to say how much I have enjoyed helping this community art exhibition. There are many wonderful and talented artists working in the region, and I hope that the communities of both Bristol Tennessee and Virginia continue to support an extraordinary accomplishment in Arts Alliance Mountain Empire's Art In Public Places.

Art in Public Places Tour a Great Group Outing

An Art in Public Places Tour is a perfect outing for clubs, groups, organizations or a friends' day out. The tour features Bristol's 2007 Outdoor Sculpture show, developed and organized by the Art in Public Places Committee of Arts Alliance Mountain Empire (AAME). Tours can be arranged by contacting Candy Snodgrass: email or call 423-612-9447.

Arts Alliance Mountain Empire is an arts council formed as a service organization for artists, arts organizations and other cultural endeavors throughout the region.

A! Magazine for the Arts is a publication of Arts Alliance Mountain Empire. The award-winning magazine is the recipient of the Tennessee Governor's 2003 Award for Arts Leadership and a 2007 Pinnacle tourism award for the print edition and the e-mail digest.