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Volume 24, Number 10 — October 2017

What Others Are Saying to the 'People's Choice' Award Winner...

Val Lyle begins work on a new sculpture. Lyle's
Val Lyle begins work on a new sculpture. Lyle's "Feminine Entwinement" was the Art in Public Places People's Choice Award.

October 28, 2008

Val Lyle says, "This has led to several new opportunities for me. I am deeply appreciative. I want to try to be a good role model..."

She continues:

— - My "kids" (art students at Virginia Highlands Community College) were busting at the seams with pride during Bristol's Rhythm and Roots Reunion, telling everyone "That's MY art teacher's sculpture! She's MY teacher!" The biggest lesson I try to teach them is that they can go far, farther than they can imagine. It helps that I'm from this area and pulled myself up a little bit. Convincing lessons come from direct contact with someone who has been in their shoes.

— - What I hadn't counted on was how many people have such a good memory about the front-page story in the Bristol Herald Courier. The locally owned hardware stores where I shop, accustomed to my odd requests, really perk up now and make suggestions, offering to order anything I need. One of the shop attendants told me, "They came here to buy the counter-sink bolts to bolt those sculptures down with! Reminds me of my days in the Navy." Another woman said she loved it because it reminded her of when her husband was stationed on the big ships.

— - We are converting our vintage house from heating oil to natural gas. On the phone, the installer said, "You're the one in the paper, aren't you? I love those sculptures downtown! I think that's great!" I tell all the fans of the sculptures to write the local newspaper to say they like it, and maybe why they like it. This fellow said he had been to bigger cities that had public art programs, so it was not so strange to him. He was delighted that Bristol started a public art program. In all honesty, though, some of my neighbors are still scratching their heads. That's OK, too.

— - The subject has come up at the dentist and the doctor's office, too. They have seen the pictures in the news, and when I ask if they have seen it "for real," I am surprised how many times folks say they used to go downtown, but they haven't been in a long, long time. I make them promise to go downtown to see it, stand beside the full eight feet of it, and walk around a little to see the good businesses downtown.

— - While working with the fellow who makes the bases for my sculptures, he and his son both got more and more excited about being involved in something happening downtown. He started talking about maybe making a giant arch, like in St. Louis, a giant arch over Bristol! He came alive.

— - I recently spoke to the Bristol Lion's Club luncheon and tailored the whole talk around the Art in Public Places (AiPP) project, community involvement and benefits with the arts. Afterwards I learned one of the AiPP contributors was in the audience. I think it went well, and I wouldn't have changed anything knowing that after the fact. Luckily I had recently heard the speech at the opening of Emory & Henry College's new art building. President Rosalind Reichard gave a rousing talk, with lots of information about creative studio arts programs being integrated into the math and science curricula — because it had been proven over and over that the arts teach us to think creatively, to think outside of the box, to devise innovative solutions. If we want to remain a global leader in innovative business, we need to pay attention to the tremendous value and payback that a very modest investment in the arts can give us.

READ ON:
Art in Public Places: People's Choice Awards