LAURINBURG —The city will unveil its new Art Garden in downtown Laurinburg a week from today.
The dedication ceremony is planned for next Thursday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. The event is open to the public.
The ceremony will include comments from Laurinburg Mayor Matthew Block Block; UNC-Pembroke Art Department Professor Adam Walls, who helped spearhead the project, Art Council Executive Director Erin Rembert and photographer McNair Evans.
City employees and a team from UNCP began installing the brightly colored metal sculptures Thursday morning and the crew worked on the project for much of the day on lot near Church and Main streets behind the A.B. Gibson Education Center.
Laurinburg Community Development Director Michael Mandeville said Echode, a local history compilation project under the Scotland County Arts Council, will complement the Art Garden by placing a mural early sometime week on the exposed Gibson Center wall that faces the garden.
“The pieces are all wonderful,” Mandeville said. “This is going to be a space that the city can be proud of. We hope the space will eventually be utilized for more than just a display and become a gathering place for the community.”
The works of art — as many as 16 pieces — are the creations of UNCP sculpture students and faculty members working under the guidance of Walls. Many of the pieces will be large enough to be appreciated by those driving by.
Christian Happel, a student at UNCP, was putting the final touches on his piece — a whimsical family of red , blue and purple lamp poles. The sculpture is called “Family Delights.”
“As in family of lights,” said Happel, a senior majoring in studio arts. “The two big ones are painted to represent the parents and the little one is the child. I see this as a place for families and I wanted my sculpture to be something they could relate to.”
Happel said his work harkens back to his own childhood.
“When I was little, when my parents and I would go for a walk or cross the street, each of them would take hold of my hands and I would jump up and swing,” he said. “I think the piece is a reminder of that kind of happy experience.”
The Art Garden’s space had 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 turn the area into a space for a public art exhibition.
“I’m extremely pleased with how the garden came together,” Mandeville said. “Rodney Byrd and the city’s Beautification team did a great job along with the Dr. Wells and the students from UNCP.”
The initial sculptures are expected to remain in the garden for a year before being replaced by a new class of students. Eventually, city officials hope each new installation of art could serve as the focal point of a regional art festival.
“The concept is great,” Happel said. “It will add to the overall aesthetic of downtown and bring people here. It is important to have a place where people can come together.”
Reach editor Scott Witten at 910-505-3023