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Volume 24, Number 10 — October 2017

Bristol's Newest Downtown Decor

Winners of 2010 Art in Public Places Installed

By AMBER TUNNELL | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER | August 07, 2010

*** Published Thursday, Aug. 5 in the Bristol Herald Courier. ***

A specific message drives the whimsical sculpture installed on the lawn in Bristol, Tenn.'s Anderson Street Park, but creator Adam Walls of Pembroke, N.C., said he mainly wants passers-by to think, "That looks fun."

"I love the way this piece works in public," he said. "It's so colorful and cartoony."

Featuring a "tank" shooting out a ball that falls to the ground and bounces away, the red, white and blue outdoor sculpture, titled "Ker-Plunk," was conceived during the last presidential election.

"I had in my mind that everyone in America wants to do the right thing," Walls said. "But sometimes we have to realize that the best intentions can sometimes go ker-plunk."

The artist said a comparison can be made between the tank and people: Both try to do wonderful things but can instead be devastating forces.

"Ker-Plunk" is one of five outdoor sculptures installed across town Wednesday. A sixth, "Samuel's Altar" by Shawn Morin, will be placed in Cumberland Park in Bristol, Va., today. All are winners in the Art in Public Places' fifth annual Outdoor Sculpture Competition, and will be on display for the coming year. Three were placed on the Tennessee side of town, and three will be in Virginia.

The winning artists each received $1,000.

Many of the large sculptures included laborious processes to get them in place, but all came with passionate thoughts and stories from their makers.

Dale McEntire's piece "Volute" made partly of Tennessee marble was installed outside of the Tennessee Courthouse in a process that included three people and a fork lift to move the 600 pound concrete base out of McEntire's truck and into position on the ground.

"I'm glad I have a piece of Tennessee marble in Tennessee," McEntire said. The marble was bought from Tennessee Marble Co. near Knoxville, Tenn. McEntire is from Saluda, N.C.

"The piece is a little architectural and a little plant-like," McEntire said.

He wanted the piece to look organic, so he covered the cement base with mulch after the installation.

Carl Billingsley of Ayden, N.C., liked the spot outside the offices of WCYB-TV chosen for his sculpture, "Top Disk," because it has a lot of light and space.

"Top Disk" is from his prism arc series, Billingsley said, which is "all about the interaction of color."

"Red will bounce onto yellow and it will create an orange," Billingsley said.

Wayne Trapp of Vilas, N.C., whose large silver sculpture "Windsock for the Aliens" was placed at the downtown center in Bristol, Tenn., said he was impressed with Bristol and the project.

"I'm impressed with what the town of Bristol is doing with the art," Trapp said Wednesday. "When people drive through the city, they think these people have it together."

Billingsley said there are more public art exhibits in the Southeast than in the rest of the U.S.

"It's a brilliant way to get the public used to having art in their public spaces," Billingsley said. "Art is out there as a way of communicating with everybody."

Cliff Tresner of Monroe, La., said he enjoyed meeting the other sculptors and Bristol residents. Tresner's piece, "Tower of Babel," a tall column of words and letters lit from the inside by a solar powered fixture, was installed in front of the Bristol Public Library.

"What was nice was the interaction," Tresner said. "When we put it [the sculpture] up people started coming up and looking at it."

Tresner also said he bought one of Trapp's books on art years ago, and was happy to finally meet him. Trapp even invited him to come to his studio after the installations, Tresner said.

Ben Collins, the Art in Public Places board member who attended the installations, said he enjoyed meeting the artists.

"They are all characters," Collins said. "The things they say show their character, which is really unique."

Hank Foreman, the competition's juror, agreed.

"Meeting the artist adds a different interpretation to the piece," Foreman said.

Required to choose six from among 42 entries this year, Foreman said the judging is always a challenge.

"I always look for things that are different in style or approach," he said.

While the new installations herald the departure of some of the current sculptures downtown, Collins said, a few of the old pieces will remain in Bristol, depending on the artists' preferences.

Collins said the future goal of Art in Public Places is to have permanent art in Bristol. One way the organization plans to do that is to be more aggressive with fund raising over the next year.

However, Collins said, the rotation of sculptures was a necessary step for the 4-year-old program.

"This is part of the process of seeing how people in Bristol react to the sculptures," Collins said. "We have gotten a sense of what people like over the years."

A colorful tank attempts to shoot, but fails in the red, white and blue public art sculpture installed today in Anderson Park. The piece is called "Ker-Plunk."

"It's exciting. I love the way this piece works in public. It's so colorful and cartoony," said the creator, Adam Walls of Pembroke, N.C., who explained that he made the piece during the last presidential election.

"I had in my mind that everyone in America wants to do the right thing," Walls said. "But sometimes we have to realize that the best intentions can sometimes go ker-plunk."

The piece is one of five installed as part of the Art in Public Places' fifth annual Outdoor Sculpture Competition. A sixth will be installed Thursday. All will be on display for the next year.

Ben Collins, an Art in Public Places board member who attended the installations, said he also enjoyed meeting the artists.

"They are all characters," Collins said. "The things they say show their character, which is really unique."

For more information on Art in Public Places, visit http://aippbristol.org/.

THERE'S MORE
— Read "Bristol's Art in Public Places" to see the sculptures.