ST. GEORGE — “As a downtown goes, so goes that city.” Those were the remarks of St. George Mayor Jon Pike at the 12th annual “Art Around the Corner Gala Reception” held Friday evening in the Dixie Academy Building, 86 S. Main St. in St. George, as he expressed his appreciation for the Art Around the Corner Foundation’s efforts in bringing art to the St. George Downtown Historic District, currently with the Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit.
For over a decade, the foundation, which was co-founded by Sarah Urquhart and renowned artist, L’Deane Trueblood, has made possible the installation and display of remarkable art pieces throughout downtown St. George.
Each spring, Art Around the Corner brings the works of notable artists to St. George, installing them in accessible public areas.
See more: St. George gets new outdoor sculptures
The Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit took the concept of an art show or an art gallery and brought it outside in order to edify the city and create accessibility to the public, said foundation board member Steve Kemp.
It is a concept, Pike said in his address, that not only enriches the city intrinsically, emotionally and spiritually but also has been shown to enrich the city fiscally.
Kemp echoed Pike’s sentiments about the importance of art as he spoke about the need to support the artists as well as the Art Around the Corner Foundation. Art, he said, has to compete for donations from the health care and education sectors but added that art can serve both causes.
“It feeds and heals the soul,” Kemp said, “it educates and broadens the mind.”
Art education is a large facet of what the foundation hopes to achieve with the Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, especially among the youth. The foundation hosts field trips for fourth-graders through which the students are able to learn about the process of creating a bronze sculpture. Students are encouraged to think like artists and spark their own creativity, said Stefanie Bevans, who has chaired the foundation for the past three years.
In addition to education, the Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit and other art outreach programs and nonprofits have proven to help bring in tourism and add to what makes St. George such a great city. Many of the artists in attendance Friday night mentioned the recent online poll that gave St. George bragging rights as the “best city in Utah”; they agreed that it is in some part due to the city’s recognition and appreciation of art.
The “Art Around the Corner Gala Reception,” which officially kicked off the 2016 installment of the Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, was seen as an opportunity to celebrate and support the artists whose works will be displayed. Not only were the artists – many of whom are nationally- and internationally-renowned – able to meet and mingle with one another but they were also able to introduce themselves and their art to those in attendance.
Each artist was given a chance to tell guests at the gala about their piece and what inspired them to create their particular sculpture. Inspirations were as varied as the artists themselves and included everything from the materials used to create the works to a mother’s love for her child, memories from a farm, the legacy of our nation’s first president, a whirlwind of musical instruments and much more.
For acclaimed artist, Stanley Wanlass, whose piece entitled “Flat Out” depicts a 1932 Ford open-wheel racer barreling toward the finish line, inspiration has come from his lifelong love of the automobile.
Wanlass is known for his “sensuous” automobile sculptures as well as his many historical monuments. He is currently working on a memorial entitled the “Seafarers Memorial” which will pay tribute to the many lives that have been lost at sea.
The piece is slated to be erected on the Columbia River Bar in Astoria, Oregon, which is known as the “Graveyard of the Pacific.”
This year marks Wanlass’ first time participating in the Art Around the Corner Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit and he said he was honored to be invited.
“Whenever we can help out with fostering art around the community or raising the level of aesthetics anywhere, we like to do that,” Wanlass said.
At the close of the gala, artist Gary Lee Price presented Pike with a small-scale version of the “Statue of Responsibility.”
Price has been commissioned to create the 300-foot statue which was inspired by Holocaust survivor and best-selling author of the book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor E. Frankl.
The “Statue of Responsibility” will be built on the west coast of the United States and is intended to act as a bookend for the “Statue of Liberty.”
In addition to Pike, the gala was attended by several members of the St. George City Council, state and local political leaders, members of the Art Around the Corner Foundation board, advocates for and lovers of art. Music for the evening’s gala was provided by Dick Earl’s Electric Witness.
All of the pieces on display during the 2016 Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit are for sale and those interested are encouraged to support the artists by purchasing or leasing a piece.
“We need to support them so they will keep coming back,” Bevans said. “It’s really important for the community if they love a piece that they buy a piece.”
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