Art & Wonder in Martinsville
In the City of Martinsville, area partners are working together to bring a community art garden to Martinsville’s Arts & Cultural District. Piedmont Arts and the City of Martinsville have selected three sculptures to be installed in the garden this spring.
Piedmont Arts’ Executive Director Kathy Rogers says the museum has chosen three artists with local ties to create the three sculptures that will be installed in the garden, which will be located in the city at the corner of Mulberry Road and Starling Avenue.
The garden will be situated in the heart of the cultural district nestled between Piedmont Arts, the Historic Little Post Office and the Smithsonian-affiliated Virginia Museum of Natural History. Elements of the garden are designed to work around the enormous old-growth trees on the property that date back to the early 1900s when The Little Post Office served as a distribution hub for the Star Route.
To welcome guests to the garden, Charlottesville-based tile artist Beryl Solla will work with area students and community members to create a mosaic tile sign.
“Beryl is a wonderful artist, who has completed numerous public art pieces across the Commonwealth,” said Rogers. “She has been to Martinsville-Henry County numerous times, as part of Piedmont Arts’ educational outreach, teaching tile-making workshops and helping students create permanent tile murals in all our local schools. We’re excited to bring her back to the area for this project.”
The three sculptures that will be installed in the garden are Four Seasons by Ed Dolinger of Bassett; LOVEwork ‘O’ by Jessie Ward of Martinsville; and Day In A Life by Mark Wright of Spotsylvania, who is originally from the area.
“Each of the works is unique,” said Moore. “Ed’s piece is a 12 foot-tall tree sculpture representing the four seasons. It will also incorporate built-in seating for visitors. Ed is working with art teacher Melissa Denning and Martinsville High School art students to plan and install his work.”
Dolinger’s work is not the only piece that will allow visitors a spot to sit and reflect, however. Mark Wright’s Day In A Life will also have seating built into its brick base.
“Mark’s piece is highly interactive,” said Moore. "It will incorporate antiques from and representations of memorable places in Martinsville-Henry County. Some of the pieces can be touched, moved and rotated, connecting the viewer to the work.”
Moore also said there is more to come for the garden. One piece in particular is already slated for expansion.
“Jessie’s piece is a large sphere made of heart-shaped horseshoes,” said Moore. It creates a large ‘O’ and will eventually become the second letter in the museum’s own LOVEwork, a free-standing sculpture that spells out the word LOVE. Moore says these sculptures can be seen in many towns and cities in Virginia, and are an initiative of the Virginia Tourism Corporation to encourage tourism and celebrate the Commonwealth’s motto, “Virginia is for Lovers."
Piedmont Arts and the City of Martinsville plan to open the garden to the public in the spring of 2017.
“Once the infrastructure is in place and all the works are installed, we will hold a free event for the community to unveil the garden,” said Rogers. “This event will allow visitors to see the new works, enjoy the outdoors and really connect with the arts in a public setting.”
The Public Art Garden is funded, in part, through a $25,000 Our Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which was procured by the City of Martinsville in partnership with Piedmont Arts. Though the three artworks chosen for the garden are funded through the grant, Rogers said more funds are needed to make the garden a true destination.
“We still need to raise additional funds to help with the installation of walkways, landscaping and maintenance – all the things that will help make the Public Art Garden feel like a welcoming and inviting space for years to come.” And, Moore added, “We will definitely be seeking grants and sponsorships for future artworks for the garden.”
For more information on the Public Art Garden or to donate to the garden fund, visit PiedmontArts.org/PublicArt.