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New sculptures bring color, imagination to downtown Kingsport

Matthew Lane • Oct 27, 2015 at 4:10 PM

KINGSPORT — A toy tank, Gothic archway, wooden crown, metal clay and a small explosion of orange.

If you’ve driven through downtown Kingsport recently, these words may remind you of something you’ve seen standing at an intersection or on display in the middle of a roundabout.

Kingsport's Office of Cultural Arts recently installed five new sculptures in the downtown area as part of the city’s annual Sculpture Walk program. Now in its ninth year, the Sculpture Walk is a program where the city leases sculptures from artists across the country to put on display in the greater downtown area for the next year.

The new sculptures started going in earlier this month, with the final one installed last week.

“Surprise” is the toy tank located at the intersection of Center and Broad. The painted steel sculpture was made by Adam Walls, who has taught at the University of North Caroline at Pembroke since 2007. Walls said “Surprise” is part of a series of oversized anthropomorphized toy tanks and represents the sensation of helplessness while being attacked and incapable of defending oneself.

“Depth of Form,” by Jacob Burmood of Springfield, Missouri, can be found in the roundabout on Broad Street near the Kingsport Public Library. Like all of Burmood's work, the cold-cast aluminum sculpture comes from a need to find, create or accentuate an underlying structure that connects individual elements.

Like its namesake, “Sentinel Royal” stands guard over one of the main entryways to the downtown area, the roundabout at Netherland Inn and Industry Drive. The sculpture is mostly painted, treated wood and was crafted by Jim Paulsen, professor emeritus from Towson University and former head of the university’s sculpture program.

Paulsen describes the sculpture as a metaphor for a protective, an icon, a guardian; royalty as a measure of protection.

On the other end of downtown, at the corner of the old Kingsport Foundry property, is “Gothic Archway” by Jim Gallucci. The 12-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture is on display at another main gateway into the downtown area. Gallucci has been a sculptor for more than 35 years and currently works full time designing and creating/fabricating sculptures in his Greensboro, N.C., studio assisted by a staff of four people.

The final piece in this year’s Sculpture Walk is “Orange Pop,” located at the intersection of Main and Broad, in front of the old Kingsport train station. Nathan Pierce, of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, used structural steel and epoxy paint to create this bright orange, exploding piece.

Pierce says his work has always dealt with the conflicts of confinement and freedom and exploring the catalyst between the two  —  building or destroying communication. “Through the radiating spokes of my abstracted satellite forms, I hope to engage the viewers’ curiosity and invite public interaction,” Pierce said.

Bonnie Macdonald, director of the city’s cultural arts office, said Kingsport collaborated with Bristol on this year’s call for sculptures, primarily for two reasons: to be attractive and friendly for artists and to make the entry process as easy as possible. Bristol has done a sculpture walk for the past 10 years, Kingsport has for nine.

“If you're an artist in Missouri or Maryland, then you might notice that there's an art exhibit in this little corner of the state, and it would probably be easier for an artist to apply one place for two potential shows,” Macdonald said. “It increases their odds of getting in a show, plus it doesn't duplicate their efforts.”

Kingsport and Bristol received submissions from 54 different artists with more than 100 different sculptures to choose from. Macdonald said the pieces will be on display through September 2016.

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