LAURINBURG — The future site of the city’s art garden took another step toward its final form this week as crews poured concrete for a sidewalk that in a few months will link more than a dozen pieces of modern art.
The lot on Church and Main streets behind the A.B. Gibson Education Center has been vacant since late 2014, when the city, Laurinburg Downtown Revitalization Corporation, county, and school system funded demolition of the defunct Branch’s Car Care service station.
Last year, the city assumed ownership of the property and voted to fund to the tune of $35,000 an idea presented by community development director Teddy Warner to use the space for public art exhibition.
“The initial plan was that we wanted to create a symbol of our community instead of what used to be there, which was a major eyesore,” Warner said. “An easy way for a rural community to get people to come in is anything in regards to the arts.”
Electrical and irrigation systems, new sod, and perimeter landscaping will follow the walkway going in this week before a dedication ceremony and unveiling of art in May or June.
The 15 pieces to be placed in the garden are the creation of UNC-Pembroke sculpture students working under the guidance of associate professor Adam Walls. While the garden will be open for closer inspection of the art by all, many of the pieces will be large enough for the appreciation of those driving by.
Echode, a local history compilation project under the Scotland County Arts Council, will complement the art exhibit by placing murals depicting the history, heritage, and culture of the county on the exposed A.B. Gibson Center wall.
“The biggest thing, besides getting the community and the local universities involved because you always want people to work together for the good of the community, the long-term effect of this is the economic development effect because it creates tourism,” said Warner. “It’s just one more way to bring people into Laurinburg. When they come into Laurinburg they’re going to eat at our restaurants and spend money at our stores.”
The first sculptures will remain in the garden for a year before they are replaced by a new class of students. Eventually, Warner said, each new installation of art could serve as the focal point of a regional art festival.
“I think that once people see how awesome this is, it’s going to continue to evolve. We know it’s going to be a success and we’re super excited about it, and there are people in the community who are excited.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.