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Controversial bridge mural in 'calming' state

Monday, Aug 26, 2013 6:46 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013 12:59 AM
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A community mural planned for the Rosa T. Beard Memorial Bridge is under a two-week “calming period,” after a Paine College official complained the public art’s approved design fails to capture the contributions the former educator made to the community.

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Lucy and David McTier (center) stand along with Greater Augusta Arts Council members Lisa Taylor (far left) and Shelita Johnson as they pose with a final mural design for the Rosa T. Beard Memorial Bridge located on 15th-Street that was presented during a commission meeting Tuesday.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Lucy and David McTier (center) stand along with Greater Augusta Arts Council members Lisa Taylor (far left) and Shelita Johnson as they pose with a final mural design for the Rosa T. Beard Memorial Bridge located on 15th-Street that was presented during a commission meeting Tuesday.

But the $24,000 mural – paid for from a $1.8 million community challenge grant awarded to Augusta from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – was never intended to be a tribute to Beard, said John Paul Stout, the sustainable development manager for the city of Augusta.

Federal and state guidelines say that the artwork must be an undivisive, community-generated piece of public art that captures a sustainable vision for the area and not a composition dedicated to the work of a historic figure.

With artist Lucy McTier, of Wrens, Ga., permitted to start painting the mural Sept. 6, Stout said the design is under a two-week “calming period” to allow disputing parties to get together on the project, whose grant funding expires in February.

He said no changes have been decided on, but minor tweaks are still possible, such as possibly changing a girl’s face to resemble Beard’s.

“With art it’s impossible to make everyone happy, but what we are trying to do is clarify the original purpose and intent of the mural, because when people hear it is going to run along the side of the Rosa T. Beard Bridge, they assume it is going to honor Rosa Beard,” Stout said. “While she certainly is worthy of such an honor, we feel the beautification of the bridge as a whole is a tribute in itself, and an option available for us to pursue.”

Leah Suggs, the assistant director of communications and marketing at Paine College, said Monday that the school nor the official who made the complaint – Brandon Brown, vice president of institutional advancement – wanted to comment on the project “at this time.” Cheryl Beard, the daughter of Rosa Beard, did not return phone calls.

Beard died in December 2010 at the age of 89. An educator for almost 40 years, she taught thousands of young people in Augusta; founded The Rocket Club for students interested in aeronautics and space; and through her debutante club, prepared young ladies for adulthood.

She was also active at Antioch Baptist Church and was a board member of Shiloh Comprehensive Community Center – a senior center, food pantry and youth-tutoring facility.

The transformation of the 15th Street bridge that bears her name was completed in February after six months of public input meetings at Josey High School and the Augusta Mini Theatre on Deans Bridge Road.

Hundreds of residents were involved in the process, providing their ideas to McTier, who submitted sketches to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the state Department of Transportation, and the Augusta Commission, which – along with its committees – unanimously approved.

“We wanted to make sure that when we started talking about the redevelopment of 15th Street that everything was very transparent and that we had broad community support,” said Elizabeth Jones, a member of the project’s steering committee, which included a member from Paine.

McTier, who has painted public murals in Memphis, Tenn., and Charleston, W.Va., said she used a young man’s drawing of an eagle majestically flying into the sunset as the focal point of the composition.

In the drawing, a young couple stares into the distance, dreaming of building a future together as the eagle flies overhead.

Next to the man and woman, an elementary school student plays with building blocks as he thinks about what he might want to be when he grows up. In the background, bike riders and peach pickers enjoy acres of green space in a safe and active city.

Jones said she does not think it is wise to alter the community’s vision of the mural and is proposing that the project’s steering committee raise money to buy a monument or historic marker to place on the grounds of Paine College that would permanently pay tribute to Beard.

“If we changed it now, we would be telling the community that what you wanted does not make any difference,” Jones said. “We are reneging on our commitment to the process and saying we are not men and women of our word.”

Because the mural is considered public art, Stout said, the project will be a work in progress “until it’s up on the wall,” which McTier said is true with all compositions.

“Some debate should be – and is expected to be – part of the process when making public art,” McTier said. “Many public artists never make only one sketch. Many drawings are involved.”

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Pops
12240
Points
Pops 08/26/13 - 07:49 pm
9
4
Sounds really nice

until the mural gets defaced with gang symbols about a hundred times.........

triscuit
3217
Points
triscuit 08/26/13 - 08:46 pm
6
1
“If we changed it now, we

“If we changed it now, we would be telling the community that what you wanted does not make any difference,” Jones said....

Sounds a tad like the ASU/GRU debacle.

just an opinion
2839
Points
just an opinion 08/26/13 - 08:49 pm
10
2
1.8 MILLION from HUD

Thank goodness our Federal tax dollars are being spent wisely.

countyman
21283
Points
countyman 08/26/13 - 09:22 pm
3
12
Excellent

The federal government should help out the cities who are moving forward. I'm glad to hear were embracing our local culture, and making the city feel more cosmopolitan.

The Cancer Center, GA DOT widening, commercial development near Kroger, redevelopment of Cherry Tree, Paine College dorms, etc.

15th street will easily become one of the main spots for revitalization/gentrification.

The Cookout restaurant is underway(going to become popular hangout) on Walton Way near 15th street, and the 4-5 story apartment building is coming to Walton Way. The private sector infill developments are moving along in the Medical District.

The city of Augusta desperately needs to have multiple areas outside of the CBD(Medical District, Summerville, Harrisburg, Midtown, Olde Town, and Laney Walker) who can offer multiple amenities within walking distance.

I'm sad the local media seems to be enamored with controversy and crime. I would love to read more about the positive things instead of multiple articles related to shoplifting.

dichotomy
36144
Points
dichotomy 08/26/13 - 09:34 pm
13
2
Yeh, aren't you happy to know

Yeh, aren't you happy to know that WE taxPAYERS have got money to throw away on crap like this. Sure inspires me to send in my quarterly federal taxes so HUD can blow more money on crap that helps NOBODY. I am tired of paying for someone's symbolism when I am also paying for their food, housing, medical, and cellphone.

If they want to put up something truly inspirational for that target audience they need to paint Eric Turner's pictures of him working three jobs all over that damned bridge.

And you are right Pops.....some of those who are supposed to be so inspired by this will be tagging it with gang signs before the paint is dry.

specsta
6709
Points
specsta 08/27/13 - 01:21 am
3
13
Appreciate the Art

dichotomy wrote - "Sure inspires me to send in my quarterly federal taxes so HUD can blow more money on crap that helps NOBODY."

This is truly a sad statement.

Perhaps you have never had the opportunity to fully appreciate art. Maybe you've never spent an afternoon at an art gallery, letting the "creative flow" infuse you through paintings, sculptures and photography.

Art is a healer, filling the emptiness inside a soul. A beautiful sunset, a pristine beach with white sand and aquamarine water, or a lovely painting all serve to replenish a man's spirit.

Art helps EVERYBODY - by allowing creative expression to thrive. Art exists for its own sake. A mural adorning the bridge will certainly bring some peace into someone's life and uplift that neighborhood.

This is what life is about...

InChristLove
22481
Points
InChristLove 08/27/13 - 04:37 am
10
0
specsta, Art may be beautiful

specsta, Art may be beautiful and I enjoy a nice painting but it does not feed a hungry child or put a roof over a families head. One does not need a "creative flow" when you are worrying how to gather enough money to pay for a sick child's doctor visit.

Someone needs peace in their life, a neighborhood needs uplifted, a soul needs the emptiness filled? Sure don't need to get it from a piece of Art.

i-feel-older-2day
77
Points
i-feel-older-2day 08/27/13 - 05:10 am
3
7
do your part

The government is doing what its suppose to do. Its you and I that have forgot our duty: feed the poor, take care of our neighbor, heel the sick. And you ask who is your neighbor?

TrulyWorried
16067
Points
TrulyWorried 08/27/13 - 05:40 am
5
1
15th Street Bridge

Isn't that now the Butt Memorial Bridge??? And the name will be changed to Rosa Beard Bridge? I may be wrong, but if I am right then I think the statue in honor of Mrs. Beard inside the Paine College Campus would be much more appropriate.

southern2
7044
Points
southern2 08/27/13 - 05:57 am
7
1
One look and it's easy to see

One look and it's easy to see why there is so much disdain for the mural. It is too diverse for the neighbor'hood'.

Riverman1
90290
Points
Riverman1 08/27/13 - 06:23 am
8
1
The Real Art

Specsta, about art. Painting colorful scenes on the sides of a bridge, building or wall is a transitory splash of colors at best. They eventually crack, fade and peel detracting from the beauty of the original structure. Look at what has happened to other murals around town. This mural fad will pass while the bridge will stand with the colors running down it like a hooker's make-up on a rainy night on Broad St. The designer of the bridge or other structure that has transitory bright colors plopped all over it is the one who laid out the real art. Painting the well thought out original structure is an affront to the intent of the original architect. The idea of painting murals on such edifices came from the graffiti painters who know as much about art as they know about respect of public property.

CobaltGeorge
170122
Points
CobaltGeorge 08/27/13 - 07:07 am
5
2
I Read But Never Debate

on the ever changing daily episodes of "As Augusta Turns". This living pleasure has made it's way to the top of the top ten list for all the unfortunates that have to view, live and endure it's continuous programing.
It sure is nice to know that this "ART Painting" paid for by the unfortunates, will solve and change the daily program events which has been aired for years in the great city of Disgusta.

Pops
12240
Points
Pops 08/27/13 - 07:10 am
8
0
Ok, I'll take your word for it.......

"Art helps EVERYBODY - by allowing creative expression to thrive. Art exists for its own sake. A mural adorning the bridge will certainly bring some peace into someone's life and uplift that neighborhood"

After it's done I'll go down there and stand and look at it. I have a feeling that the only "peace" I will feel will be the "piece" sticking in my ribs by a local relieving me of my Droid and wallet.

allhans
24483
Points
allhans 08/27/13 - 07:15 am
7
0
Have you seen the art painted

Have you seen the art painted on the wall of water works department lately? As mentioned above... The facts are after a brief time nobody notices.
Brief glory at best.

seenitB4
93480
Points
seenitB4 08/27/13 - 07:20 am
3
2
Going against the grain here

I say ..Let it fly....put it on & put more all over Augusta...color does uplift the soul & downtown sure needs some brightness....mint greens---baby blues.......vibrant shades of puple--pinks--oranges--give me the gem colors & let this be just the beginning ...I say COLOR everything!

I just remembered something....when traveling through parts of Cancun & Cozumel something did catch my attention & made me want to linger longer...it was the beautiful colors o the houses.......it popped.

Riverman1
90290
Points
Riverman1 08/27/13 - 07:30 am
5
1
SeenIt, it's one thing to

SeenIt, it's one thing to paint houses and buildings in colorful ways, quite another to paint structures that the architect intended to look another way. Should we paint the Eiffel Tower?

Going along with what you said, Rainbow Row in Charleston is a series of historic townhouses that were all painted different and bright colors. I have a painting of it.

seenitB4
93480
Points
seenitB4 08/27/13 - 07:31 am
4
1
I rest my case sir

Going along with what you said, Rainbow Row in Charleston is a series of historic townhouses that were all painted different and bright colors. I have a painting of it.

EXACTLY my point...I love the buildings in the bright colors.

seenitB4
93480
Points
seenitB4 08/27/13 - 07:34 am
2
1
Should we paint the Eiffel Tower?

Please google the Eiffel Tower in lights....beautiful!!

Thank you for making my point!

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
10201
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 08/27/13 - 07:45 am
5
1
Bright Colors

EXACTLY my point...I love the buildings in the bright colors
But not MURALS!!! If you have to do a mural, why not take scenes from photos of the area from 30 to 50 years ago when it was vibrant and paint those scenes on there. As for honoring someone, put up a statue or memorial on the Paine Campus if that is what they want.
Lights are one thing they can be easily removed. Paint is another!
Shrimp Scampi, Shrimp Gumbo, Shrimp Po Boys, Shrimp Cocktails ...........

seenitB4
93480
Points
seenitB4 08/27/13 - 07:54 am
2
2
A Woman's view

I'm so glad you guys don't get to choose what murals--colors & etc will go up in Augusta....leave it to the ladies & we will handle this...

Bring it on dear ladies....this is a wonderful idea.

Dixieman
16479
Points
Dixieman 08/27/13 - 07:56 am
5
1
I like it

And I think we should let the artist go ahead without trying to please everyone. Otherwise we will end up with something that will remind us of the old saying, "A camel is a horse that was put together by a committee."

Riverman1
90290
Points
Riverman1 08/27/13 - 08:01 am
6
2
SeenIt, the point we are

SeenIt, the point we are making is paint buildings and houses any color you want. But leave public structures that were carefully designed to have certain colors and appearances alone. Putting a contemporary mural on a bridge is not simply using colors and it is anything but lasting art. Should we paint murals on the pyramids?

Red Headed Step Child
4269
Points
Red Headed Step Child 08/27/13 - 08:07 am
6
0
@specsta

I find it ironic that you pointed out on another thread that there are "malnurished kids with ribs sticking out" and yet you seem to support spending money on something like this mural instead of say, helping the homeless and needy children of this area. You spoke of missed priorities, and I definitely think this is one.

I love art - I'm all about beautifying an area. $24K isn't a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but I do think that the money is best spent on other things that affect the body and soul - like food and housing, indigent health care...the list goes on. A drop in the bucket is better than nothing at all...and in this case, better than a mural.

I can appreciate your zeal for righting the wrongs, but I think you're off on this one..

pearlthesquirrel
786
Points
pearlthesquirrel 08/27/13 - 08:16 am
0
0
$24k ?
Unpublished

$24k for that? It looks like an explosion in a massage parlor for crying out loud!

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/27/13 - 08:20 am
7
0
Art like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Taking money from all to pay for what only a percentage of people want is how we do it in the AUG. Not sayin it's right, just how they roll.

internationallyunknown
4631
Points
internationallyunknown 08/27/13 - 08:29 am
0
0
^ True on both sides.

^ True on both sides.

CobaltGeorge
170122
Points
CobaltGeorge 08/27/13 - 09:03 am
3
1
You Know What Mural

should be painted and would accomplish at lot.......

One with a Tomb Stone reading PC 'Rest In Peace'

Displayed on all government buildings, entrance and exist to Augusta

justthefacts
23840
Points
justthefacts 08/27/13 - 09:45 am
4
0
Question

Is this the Butts Memorial Bridge or another? Thanks for the indo.

countyman
21283
Points
countyman 08/27/13 - 10:13 am
1
3
Great job

Another classic example of our city becoming progressive. The same few people always have something negative to say(even on this article), and the same group of people told us the Richmond County Master plan was a waste of money.

They rountinely said the master plan was this stupid idea even though the plan mostly focuses on South Augusta. The same area they always want to mention any other time.

The Master plan cost $500k, but we got $1.8 million in return.

The progressive ideas behind Laney Walker/Bethlehem, Butler Creek Greenway, Augusta Regional Industrial Park/General Perry Smith Pkwy, Cultural/Mills campuses, etc will help attract investment also.

The city needs to build a electronic/digital screen downtown in the CBD. They can allow different companies in the CSRA to advertise and collect the money. The city should promote the local events/festivals to increase the attendance at local activities. Then finally build 4-5 electronic screens along I-20 and I-520.

corgimom
36491
Points
corgimom 08/27/13 - 10:48 am
5
1
What an absolute waste of

What an absolute waste of taxpayer dollars.

And yes, the RC Master Plan was, and is, a colossal waste of money.

How did Augusta grow and prosper before they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on "Master Plans"?

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