A! Magazine for the Arts

ECU Supports First Permanent AiPP Sculpture

September 10, 2013

BRISTOL - What weighs 7,500 pounds, is 16 feet tall, 16 feet wide, tells the story of our region's unique culture, reaches sister cities crossing state lines and is sure to make you smile?

According to an announcement made by Eastman Credit Union and Art in Public Places at the Bristol Public Library Tuesday, Sept. 10, the answer will be unveiled in October 2014 as Bristol marvels in the first, permanent AiPP sculpture to adorn both cities. Representative of the area's rich and distinctive culture, the sculpture sponsored by ECU will be located on the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Goode Street directly in front of the library.

"When we were approached about sponsoring this particular piece, there was an instant connection for us. We are proud to have a long history in this region, and this particular sculpture tells the story of what makes our region unique," said Olan Jones, CEO and president of ECU. "Plus," Jones continued, "the sheer size of it exemplifies our commitment to the communities of Bristol, Tenn., Bristol, Va., and beyond."

An $80,000 contribution on the part of ECU will fund a structure scaled to fit the library's architectural presence. Appropriately named "Bristol's Cultural Heritage," it will be an everlasting, artistic feature of Bristol.

"It's impressive," said Candy Snodgrass, president of AiPP, "and we are thrilled that ECU has partnered with AiPP to bring life to a concept generated by one of our very own board members –Mary Jane Miller. The layers of the arch are sure to strike an emotional connection with anyone who nears its commanding presence," said Candy Snodgrass, president AiPP.

While the details of the actual design will remain guarded as "top secret" until its reveal, updates, hints and possibly some partial sneak peeks may arise over the next year.

"Here at the library, we are honored AiPP chose our location as the home for this exceptional piece. Many people may not realize that the library was built as a vehicle for the arts. This sculpture will be the highest profile example yet, fulfilling one of our basic purposes as a public building," said Jud Barry, Bristol Public Library director.

Mary Jane Miller, a local interior designer and active AiPP board member, conceptualized the sculpture. She then worked with world renowned, Abingdon illustrator, Charles Vess, to put her concept to paper and create preliminary sketches. In an effort to keep the project local, Vess recommended local sculptor, Val Lyle, who is coordinating the project with sculptor and fabricator, Jim Gallucci of Greensboro, N.C.

"The arch will be constructed contemporarily because that's what artists are doing these days, but I talked with local artists to come up with elements that we could present in a traditional manner. The statement made by this piece will be outstanding as it represents the many layers of our rich and unique culture with a physical presence sure to demand attention from passersby," said Miller.

While AiPP has a few existing pieces of permanent sculpture donated for various reasons, "Bristol's Cultural Heritage" will be the first gifted piece, specifically created for Bristol.

"We're proud, here at ECU, to support this project. This is a powerful sculpture in its beauty, its presence and its community and cultural significance," said Jones.