On the trail of public art

by Jennifer Pritchett

This article first appeared in the Dec. 2, 2013 edition of the Telegraph-Journal


SAINT JOHN – The creation of an International Sculpture Trail that spans through Maine and into southwestern New Brunswick all the way to Sussex – a first for this province – is designed to promote community arts development and boost tourism.

Diana Alexander, executive director of Sculpture Saint John, and Tourism Minister Trevor Holder announced the new trail map on Monday as a self-guided tour of public stone sculpture that has been, and will be in 2014, created at the New Brunswick International Sculpture Symposium in Saint John and the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium in Maine.

The trail builds on the “Two Nation Vacation” campaign that governments on both sides of the border are promoting to draw more visitors to the region.

“What we’re developing here with this International Sculpture Trail is going to be a lasting tourism product that will be left in our community behind us,” Holder said.

The Saint John Portland MLA said the idea is to create “buzz and the energy” needed in the community around arts development.

“This is about getting people who may not have been interested in sculptures to take an interest in arts development,” he said.

Alexander said the trail will help to draw tourists off the highway and into smaller communities.

She also announced the dates for the second International Sculpture Symposium, which will be held in Saint John next summer from Aug. 7 to Sept. 20 – and event that will go hand-in-hand with the promotion of the sculpture trail.

“For many of these community partners, this will be their first piece of public art and that’s really a milestone for them,” Alexander said.

In August 2012, Saint John launched its first international sculpture symposium, with six artists from five countries making public-art pieces for as many communities in six weeks. More than 35,000 visitors watched as artists carved 120 tons of New Brunswick granite on the city’s waterfront. The event transformed a portion of the city’s old Coast Guard site into an open-air artists’ studio.

Three of the six communities received their first piece of public art in the process.

“We are about connecting communities through affordable public art,” said Alexander.

She said the 2014 event will expand the number of artists to eight and will move the open-air studio to the front of the old Coast Guard site for improved visibility.

The community partners, also announced on Monday, are Sussex, Hampton, New Brunswick Community College in Saint John, Saint John Waterfront Development, Grand Bay-Westfield, Blacks Harbour, St. Andrews and St. Stephen.

“Our goal next year is to have 50,000 people come and see our event,” said Alexander.

She said more than 160 artists from 47 countries around the world have applied to take part and the list has so far been reduced to 25. Of those, five successful applicants will be announced early in the new year.

Two of last year’s artists will be invited to return for the 2014 symposium. Jim Boyd, a Hampton-based artist, was selected to return again as the New Brunswick artist.

Alexander said the community partners will choose the artist that will create a piece for their area.

“They will actually get to select their first, second and third choice,” she said. “Last year, each of the community partners got their first choice, which was pretty exciting.”

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