Greater Augusta Arts Council leads campaign for art in public spaces

A new campaign by the Greater Augusta Arts Council is aiming to brighten the city one piece of artwork at a time.

Since sanctioned as the city’s official art agency in March, the arts council has embarked on several initiatives to add art near public spaces, parks, roadways and city gateways. Local artists are helping design murals, sculptures and art exhibits that contribute to community pride and tourism, said executive director Brenda Durant.

The first project underway is a mural that was designed using community input from public meetings for a city-led project redeveloping the 15th Street corridor from downtown to south Augusta. Artist Lucy McTier sketched a pencil drawing that will come to life near the 15th Street overpass at Wrightsboro Road.

Students, artists and community members will paint the mural once it is approved by the Georgia Department of Transportation, Durant said. Grants funding the 15th Street corridor project are being used for the mural.

“It features a series of vignettes that show what the community is interested in that area looking like in the future,” Durant said.

In the painting. an eagle represents nearby Josey High School and portraits of children and young adults symbolize future prosperity for the area. An elderly woman is shown holding fresh vegetables, which represents the need for community gardens.

The mural was originally intended for the former Castleberry’s plant, now home to Mercy Ministries, but it was deemed unsuitable for paint because of a sealant on the wall.

The arts council and a committee organized for the public art campaign is also exploring sculpture for the Laney-Walker heritage trail.

The initiative is completing an inventory of existing public art such as murals on the Augusta Water Works at Highland Avenue and sculptures at Walton Rehabilitation Hospital gardens and Augusta State University.

The campaign to bring more public art to Augusta was the focus of the art council’s fundraising on Georgia Gives Day, a statewide initiative that raised money for nonprofits. The arts council raised nearly $1,200.

“Art creates a sense of place and sense of belonging for people who live here,” Durant said.

The arts council recieved a $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation for the CSRA on Dec. 7 to fund a weeklong art exhibit and workshops in June that will highlight social change, with a special emphasis on homelessness.

Among the presentations will be a photography exhibit by nationally acclaimed artist David Michalek titled 14 Stations that was made in collaboration with a New York program that helps men and women transition out of homelessness.

The arts council has begun conversations with local social service agencies that assist the homeless to feature their work through art and storytelling.

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