Sculpture Walk at Founders Park in Downtown Johnson City + Tips for Viewing Public Art

It was the perfect day to explore the sculptures at Founders Park in downtown Johnson City.

Johnson City Public Art Committee hosted a guided tour of the 14 new sculptures on display in Downtown Johnson City on Saturday, September 30. Bill Brown, guest juror, walked us through Founders Park and the surrounding area making stops along the way to discuss the selected artists in this year’s Biennial Sculpture Exhibition. The walk was at a leisurely pace on a gorgeous, fall day with an open dialogue of the selection process.

Grab some friends and enjoy a walk through Founders Park and the downtown area. Be sure to download the Downtown Johnson City app and click “More” to access the “Public Art” guide.

Hey, y’all! It is time to grab a good cup of coffee and sit a spell with me as we chat about the recent sculpture walk I attended at Founders Park. *happy dance* It was a lovely guided tour filled with fans of the growing public art scene in Johnson City. Bill Brown led the group and gave some pretty good tips on viewing outdoor sculpture. Using advice from Bill and my own experience, I have complied ten tips on viewing public art–with an emphasis on outdoor sculpture.

Bill Brown of Anvil Arts Studio, Inc. chatting about the importance of looking all away around a sculpture and seeing it from different viewpoints. How the piece looks from 60 feet away, 20 feet away, and 12 inches away.

tip one: slowly approach the artwork.

Take time to look at it from 60 feet away…20 feet away…12 inches away. How does the piece look differently from a distance versus up close?

This is one piece you need to see in person in order to really appreciate how it acts as a window to downtown Johnson City and its new, but old sign at King Commons.

tip two: look at how the outdoor artwork fits in and accentuates its surroundings.

Does the piece act as a window to something beyond it? How do the colors of the artwork play with the colors of nature that surround it? Does it complement its surroundings well? Does it blend it or stand out?

Fortitude II by artist Mark Krucke of Sarasosta, Florida. Krucke uses natural forms and mathematical formulas in his work. This piece is part of the Fortitude series which uses the Fibonacci spiral to create the stem and overall form of the leaf. To learn more about this artist, click here.

Aquarium by Marvin Tadlock of Bristol, Virginia. This large, steel sculpture presents the viewer with different phases of life, and an opportunity for the viewer to contemplate what is presented before them–from the titled aquarium to the fish that has sprouted a large set of wings.

tip three: observe each layer|element individually.

How does each element contribute to the artwork as a whole? How do the pieces flow together to tell the story of the artwork? Is it easy or difficult to see the different elements and layers? Is there one thing that stands out?

Bill Brown, the guest juror and sculpture-walk guide, asking the audience how “Aquarium” makes them feel and what they see in the piece. For more about this outdoor sculpture, download the Downtown Johnson City app and click on “More” to access the “Public Art” guide.

tip four: get to know the artists before you go.

Check to see if the city you are visiting has a public art guide/app. Visit the artists’ websites for their bios, photos of other works, and their contact info. Don’t be shy. If you have a question about an artwork, email the artist. **Most websites have contact forms. Don’t be afraid to use them!**

Marvin Tadlock explaining the lifecycle of his sculpture to the audience.

Marving Tadlock created “Aquarium” out of mild steel and stainless steel. Here, he is talking about the large fish that is still alive in the titled aquarium and the fish with the wings that appears to be taking flight. How cool it was to have the sculptor there explaining his artwork!

Marvin Tadlock standing with his 12.5-foot tall sculpture “Aquarium”–which represents the hope of a life hereafter.

tip five: walk all the way around.

How does the artwork change as you move around it? Do you have a favorite view of the piece? Why or why not?

“Balancing Time II” by Ed Walker of Seagrove, North Carolina, Fabricated aluminum, 12′ x 4′ x 6′. Walker’s goal is to show the reverence he has for the natural environment, and he hopes those viewing his sculpture will as well. To learn more about Ed Walker and his art, click here.

“Metamorphosis” by Mary Ruden of Seymour, Tennessee was donated for permanent exhibit by Marcia and Lewis Songer. This sculpture symbolizes life cycle, change, release, and rebirth. For more about Mary Ruden, click here.

tip six: look up.

How does the artwork contrast or work with the sky and the clouds? Does it look different on a cloudy day versus a sunny day. If so, how? 

“He Stopped and Turned to the Light” made of locust wood by Charlie Brouwer of Willis, Virginia was donated for permanent exhibit by Wexler. This sculpture reminds us all to take a moment and enjoy the warmth of the sun or a cup of coffee with a friend.

tip seven: compare the texture(s) of the artwork to the natural textures around it.

Are the texture(s) of the sculpture rough, uneven, smooth, fine…? Do those textures blend in or stand out against the sculpture’s surroundings? Is the artwork in the perfect location for its texture(s) or would it look better somewhere else? Explain why.

Next on the tour was “Arbor Spire” by Aaron Hussey of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“My sculpture, Arbor Spire, is one of many works continuous in a body of art that I have been investigating for decades. Organic and structural forms reference connections between the built environment and the natural world,” states Hussey.

“Genesis” by Marc Moulton of Statesboro, Georgia and Duke Oursler of Macomb, Illinois is located at the western entrance to Founders Park. It was the first work commissioned by the Public Art Committee.

Up close view of the Founders sculpture

Mother Nature also has an art show happening at Founders Park.

“Hybridized Daylily” made of granite and stainless steel was created by Shawn Morin of Bowling Green, Ohio. “Hybridized Daylily” started out as a granite flower for the artist’s wife, who is an avid gardener and loves the dayliles their son is creating as a part-time daylily hybridizer.

tip eight: compare the scale of the sculpture to its surroundings.

Is it too small, too large, or just right compared to its surroundings? Does the scale of the sculpture and its surroundings feel intimate, dramatic, natural…?

Larry Millard of Athens, Georgia created “Stepped Tower” out of steel, and the hazy, reflective surface gives glimpses of the sculpture’s surroundings. To learn more about the artist’s inspiration behind this piece, download the Downtown Johnson City app. To explore this artist, visit his website here.

tip nine: observe the color(s).

How many colors to you see? Are those colors part of the sculpture, or are those colors coming from its surroundings? Are the colors bold, vibrant, subtle, natural, muted…? How does the color of the outdoor sculpture work with its setting? 

“Divided” by James Westermann is “a great example of a piece that started off entirely different….Often you just have to listen to what the materials are telling you and go along with them.” (From the artist)

“Divided”
painted steel, granite
8′ x 5′ x 3′

Closer view of “Divided” by James Westermann

Great view of “Through Someone Else’s Eyes” and “Balancing Time II” at Founders Park in downtown Johnson City, Tennessee

tip ten: be open-minded.

Remember there is no right or wrong way to observe a work of art. You do not have to know fancy art terms in order to express your opinions or give your interpretations. Do not reject the ideas of others. They are just seeing it differently. It doesn’t make anyone right or wrong. Art is all about starting an open dialogue and keeping the conversation going by being open-minded!

“Through Someone Else’s Eyes” created by Elisha Gold of Memphis, Tennessee.

This is what I love about public art and this sculpture by Elisha Gold! The rusty old truck, the blue sky with wispy white clouds, and the tree with its slightly changing leaves–all of it working perfectly together.

“High Rise” by Charles Pilkey of Mint Hill, North Carolina is located on Buffalo Street in downtown Johnson City.

Thanks so much for sitting a spell with me today as we explored some of the public art in downtown Johnson City. If you are in the area, take a tour of the local art and let me know what you think + share your photos with #exploredowntownjc. If you are looking for a fun weekend getaway, make Johnson City your destination.

To learn more about public art in Johnson City and the mission of Johnson City Public Art, visit their website here.

 

 

 

 

Blue Plum Festival 2015 Announces New Additions + Old Favorites

20150414_115246-1_resizedHey, y’all! Welcome to Sweet Sorghum Living–a place to sit a spell with a good cup of coffee and enjoy good conversation about everything from gluten-free goodies to handmade goodness. Today on the blog, we are chatting about the Blue Plum Festival, which will be happening the first weekend in June in downtown Johnson City.

Last year was my first time to attend the Blue Plum, and it was fabulous–the music and the arts and crafts vendors held my attention throughout the event + the Urban Art Throwdown was pretty amazing. I am so excited about this year’s festival because the folks from Friends of Olde Downtowne have added new elements to the weekend-long event. There will be a new ticketed concert + a CrossFit Tournament + a bigger and better Blue Hop Brew HaHa. Not to mention all the incredible music, amazing arts and crafts vendors, delicious food, and more. Whew! I need to sit down and calm down *wink*

Deanna Hays, Director of Friends of Olde Downtowne, excitedly stated, "Wow! This is going to be a festival to remember...great music, fun events, delicious food,  impressive arts and crafts vendors...but wouldn't it be nice to be known as the friendliest festival in the South!"

Deanna Hays, Director of Friends of Olde Downtowne, excitedly stated, “Wow! This is going to be a festival to remember…great music, fun events, delicious food, impressive arts and crafts vendors…but wouldn’t it be nice to be known as the friendliest festival in the South!”

Are you a fan of great music and craft beer? Well, I have the perfect place for you to be the first weekend of June–Founders Park in Johnson City, Tennessee for Blue Plum at Founders. This new addition to the festival will offer (for those who choose to purchase a ticket–more about those tickets in a moment *wink*) folks a fabulous chance to enjoy the amazing sound of the band Shovels and Rope, who have appeared on the Late Show and Austin City Limits. How cool is that!

Tickets for the Shovels and Rope concert, which also includes Ian Thomas and the Band of Drifters and the Grammy-award winning Rebirth Brass Band, are available for purchase at blue plum.org for $25 until May 25 and $30 after May 25. Blue Plum at Founders will be held on the Great Lawn at Founders Park.

Ed Snodderly and Tracy Johnson announcing this year's Blue Plum Festival music lineup.

Ed Snodderly and Tracy Johnson announcing this year’s Blue Plum Festival music lineup.

Now, don’t fret because there is even more amazing music happening at the Blue Plum Festival–which is known for its variety of music options. On Friday, June 5th, the evening will be filled with festival fans at The Main Street Stage waiting to hear the wonderful Americana music by 18 South, and the next evening, they will all be back waiting to enjoy the sounds of Webb Wilder and Ritchie. Will you be one of those fans? I know the hubby and I will be *big smile*

Aaron Carson, with Superfly Fabulous Events, said the new space will allow the Blue Hop Brew Haha to grow from 500 people to around 1,000 this year, giving the chance for festival goers and craft beer lovers to taste from many of region’s best breweries.

Aaron Carson, with Superfly Fabulous Events, explained that this year’s Blue Hop Brew HaHa will be able to serve around 1,000 people–up from last year’s 500. This will give more festival goers and craft beer lovers the chance to sample from many of the region’s best breweries. Tracy Johnson also spoke about all the wonderful activities that will be happening the first weekend of June.

Attention Craft Beer Fans: The Blue Hop Brew HaHa will be changing locations this year, but this change is a good change *smile* This opportunity for craft beer lovers will be held at Founders Park + the selection will be tripled (yes, tripled!) from last year’s selection of finely crafted brews. You will not want to miss out on the opportunity to get your tickets for this event, so head on over to blueplum.org now! Tickets for this event are $35 until May 25 and $40 after May 25–but I am guessing those tickets won’t last until May 25 *wink* For more information about the brewers, click here.

Shannon Castillo, president of Friends of Olde Downtowne, gave a great shout out to all the sponsors of this year's Blue Plum Festival and chatted about how a portion of the proceeds from this year’s festival will be donated to the downtown area. Friends of Olde Downtowne was founded over 15 years ago to help revive the downtown area. This year the organization will have the chance to put some money into their mission--getting folks to visit, shop, and enjoy downtown Johnson City.

Shannon Castillo, president of Friends of Olde Downtowne, gave a great shout out to all the sponsors of this year’s Blue Plum Festival and chatted about how a portion of the proceeds from this year’s festival will be donated to the downtown area. Friends of Olde Downtowne was founded over 15 years ago to help revive the downtown area. This year the organization will have the chance to put some money into their mission–getting folks to visit, shop, and enjoy downtown Johnson City.

I have been babbling so much about the music and craft beer that I forgot to mention that this is the area’s largest, free festival (yes, there are a couple of ticketed events that I mentioned above). This year’s Blue Plum will have the Blue Plum Playhouse, Animation Festival, the Criterium, the CrossFit East 10 Summer Bash–which is a brand new event where athletes will compete in difficult workouts including weightlifting and gymnastics movements, over 50 arts and crafts vendors, and an amazing food court.

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There will be a 5K, which will begin at Founders Park on Friday, June 5th at 7:00 pm + Little Blue Plum Half at 6:30 pm. Along with running, there will also be the Blue Plum Bicycle Race on Sunday, June 7th. The Franklin Woods Community Hospital Criterium will again be the final race of the Slow Ride Omnium–even though the new title says slow, the racers will be averaging 30 miles per hour while negotiating seven turns per lap! If you are not a bicyclist or racer of bikes, don’t fret. I’m not either! But we can enjoy delicious food and beverages at Tupelo Honey Cafe, Tipton Street Pub, Labels, and Main Street Pizza while watching the cyclists go by. Reneau Dubberly, TCRC Race Director, stated that this will be a unique experience because it combines the ambiance of Downtown Johnson City with one of the area’s most exciting sports events. For more information about Omnium Criterium Bike Race, click here.

Sweet & Dirty's Emporium of Good Stuff was one of the VIP and SSL Top Picks at the Blue Plum Festival.

Sweet & Dirty’s Emporium of Good Stuff was one of the VIP and SSL Top Picks at the Blue Plum Festival 2014.

My goodness! I am getting so excited about Blue Plum! Whew! I have got to get my outfits bought and my CamelBak ready *wink* I cannot wait to see y’all there and share all my top picks from the festival *big smile*

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Thanks so much for sitting a spell with me today as we chatted about some of the fabulous events and activities coming to Blue Plum 2015. For more information about the festival, click here.

My daughter, Abby Hathorn of the Vintage Inspired Passionista, posing for a fan photo.

My daughter, Abby Hathorn of the Vintage Inspired Passionista, posing for a fan photo at the Blue Plum Festival 2014.