Art Al Fresco: Art Around the Corner Debuts New Outdoor Sculpture Gallery
By Marianne Hamilton
Now that warm is the norm in St. George, locals are ditching the indoors and savoring sunshine and fresh air. A favorite destination for those getting out and about: Historic Downtown, where art-lovers can find inspiration aplenty amidst galleries, museums and performance spaces. For those who prefer their art al fresco, the annual Outdoor Sculpture Gallery is always a huge draw.
Since 2004, the nonprofit, all-volunteer Art Around the Corner Foundation has curated a collection of sculptures that are installed on Main Street, along with sites in Town Square and nearby traffic roundabouts. From the towering metal guitar that appeared on Main and Tabernacle in 2014 (and now has a permanent home in the square), to the trio of horses grazing at 400 East, to the really big pink stiletto that once stopped traffic – and frequently, conversation – on Main, the AAC’s April installation is a highly anticipated rite of spring.
This year’s new collection is no exception: Nearly 30 sculptures were put into place on April 14. The works are crafted of marble, glass, found objects, stone, bronze and other materials, with subjects ranging from lyrical, fluid figures to thought-provoking abstracts to behemoth creatures – such as a 20’ spider and a 10’ dinosaur – guaranteed to disarm and (hopefully) delight the young and young-at-heart.
Susan Jarvis, chair of the Art Around the Corner board of directors, believes the annual outdoor show is living proof of the commitment by the City of St. George to nurturing and supporting the arts. When Jarvis, a realtor with ERA Brokers Consolidated, encounters newcomers walking down Main Street, she makes sure to steer them toward the outdoor art. “Visitors are always thrilled to see the collection; it’s a signal to people moving here that this is a creative community, and a place that cares about the quality of life.
“The City of St. George is a key partner of Art Around the Corner,” Jarvis adds. “They provide invaluable assistance in helping us install and take down the shows each year, making sure we have places for art on our streets and in our roundabouts, and they donate a lot of time, talent and equipment. We truly appreciate the many ways in which Mayor Pike, the Council members, and all City staff support our efforts to make and keep art visible for the community.”
Each artist whose work is accepted into the show agrees to loan it to the City of St. George for one year. At the end of that time, the artist is free to lease or sell it to a private or corporate collector (with Art Around the Corner brokering the transactions), or transport it back home. In a number of instances, the City has purchased pieces for its permanent collection. Most of the art is installed on pedestals which are sponsored (at a cost of $1,000) by local businesses and community members, with sponsors’ names engraved on plaques that are affixed to the pedestals for the year.
Renowned sculptor Matt Clark was one of the original visionaries of the Outdoor Sculpture Gallery. His work has been exhibited in the downtown collection since its inception, and several of his pieces have been acquired by the City. Clark specializes in repurposing discarded metal objects – a metaphor for his life, which was forever transformed at 17, when a devastating spinal cord injury confined him to a wheelchair. “The objects I use in my art were originally created to perform a specific function,” Clark notes. “For me, their transformation is symbolic of my own journey; of ultimately transcending broken dreams and heartache.”
Clark credits former AAC board chair Sara Urquhart as being one of the driving forces behind the outdoor gallery, along with bronze sculptor L’Deane Trueblood (who has been instrumental in recruiting artists to participate in the exhibit), and her daughter-in-law, Cindy Trueblood, who served as AAC’s director of sales and community relations. “When this all started in 2004,” Clark recalls, “the City was making an effort to try to direct more traffic downtown. We’re really happy that everyone has seen the impact that the Outdoor Sculpture Galley has made in the area since then.”
The 2018-2019 show includes pieces from artists who are new to the collection, and hail from areas outside of St. George. “Thanks to our generous sponsors, and some grants we received, for the first time Art Around the Corner has been able to offer stipends to artists who are bringing their work here,” Jarvis explains. “The stipends help us support some of their travel costs, and in turn have helped us attract some new ‘faces’ to the exhibit. We’re extremely excited that our public and private partnerships are enabling Art Around the Corner to grow and flourish. And, we hope the community will come out and enjoy this outstanding public art!”
For more information about the Art Around the Corner Outdoor Gallery, a map of all sculptures, and details about sponsorship opportunities, visit www.artaroundthecorner.com.