Supes pitched on allowing sculptures all year

‘When Love and Hate Collide’ by Zach Bowman, from the  2018 Ring Out for Art contest

The county supervisors will be looking for a balance in what is allowed on the courthouse grounds after being lobbied Monday by Jefferson Matters: Main Street’s Tower View Team (TVT) to have sculptures there year round.

“I think we all want to contribute to the vibrancy of the square, and there are a bunch of different components of that,” board chair John Muir said. “The thing we have to do is find balance of everything that wants to be on the inside of the square.”

The sculptures in question are entries in the TVT’s  Ring Out for Art contest, held in conjunction with the Bell Tower Festival. This past year, the sculptures were displayed from May through October but had to be removed by the artists before winter.

Deb McGinn, TVT chair, said that in 2019, the sculptures will not be voted on during the Bell Tower Festival to select first, second and third place winners to receive cash. Instead, every artist whose piece is selected through a jury process will receive $1,000.

She said “creative placemaking” such as Zach Mannheimer suggested in his Vision 2020 plan for the county, sets 10 as the number of attractions needed to draw people to a downtown area year round. She listed attractions, with the Ring Out for Art sculptures 10th on the list.

She said public art is necessary to draw newcomers to town, to make a town “come alive.” She said art downtown brings people off the Raccoon River Valley Trail, and that work is being done to market Jefferson as an arts community. She used Manning and Woodbine as examples of communities using public art successfully.

“The reasons for public art are all positive reasons and I think they’ll help with the development of our downtown,” McGinn said.

Sid Jones, president of Home State Bank, also spoke on behalf of year-round sculptures. The bank has been the financial sponsor of Ring Out for Art since it was conceived. He said the bank included a place for art during its remodeling a few years ago and that many people, customers and non-customers visit the art display. “I’ve become a believer that public art is of importance to communities, he said. “The more you drive around, the more public art you see. It used to be just in urban areas, but now it’s in more towns the size of Jefferson. People do look for it.”

Angie Gingery, a member of the Tower View Team, said having sculptures downtown helps local people realize there are things to do in Jefferson. She said county residents are the hardest to convince there are attractions in Jefferson, but art that changes from time to time helps.

Pat Richards, supervisor of the bell tower tour guides, said the sculptures on the plaza are often the starting place for conversations with visitors. Bell tower staff sees people looking at or taking photos of the sculptures and then step out to talk with them.

The supervisors during previous discussions have expressed concerns that the courthouse grounds would look cluttered if every group wanting to put something there were allowed to,;that snow removal would become more difficult; and that there could be liability with trip-and-fall accidents.

Muir said Monday the board will have more discussion and try to come up with an option that satisfies everyone.

Print or share article:Print this page
Email this to someone
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on Facebook