Over the past few weeks, Roanoke Parks and Recreation staff have helped artists install nine new sculptures in the Elmwood Park Art Walk. Selected by a local artist review panel and the Roanoke Arts Commission, the sculptures are meant to represent a “City in Motion.” Inspired by Roanoke’s continual progress, innovation, and creativity, the City in Motion open air art exhibit will be on display in the park through November 2018.
Birds by Richard Whitehill
Inspired by flight, this dynamic, kinetic sculpture is constructed out of welded mild and stainless steel pieces. Each gleaming metallic wing shape reflects an array of colors from surrounding objects: green leaves, red brick walkways, and blue skies, giving the piece an ever-changing glow. The artist, Richard Whitehill, said that Birds took him roughly six months to complete. “There’s a lot of trial and error that goes into balancing the moving components so that they actually move around and don’t just pendulum back and forth,” commented Whitehill.
For Whitehill, having this piece on display in Roanoke is a special honor, because he used to live in the city. “We lived in Roanoke between 1976 and 1977, and I don’t think there was an Elmwood Park at that time, but to see this beautiful area that has been developed and to have a piece here, it’s just wonderful for me.” Whitehill has created several permanent public art installations in Charlottesville, Virginia, and has developed commissioned sculptures for private homes across the country.
Shugoweh I by Jim Respess
Composed of a wide range of media, including acrylic roof concrete, styrofoam, paint, and fiberglass, Shugoweh I is a colorful and iridescent 300-pound sculpture. The artist’s creative process involves layering many “threads of thought” into a single object using a wide range of materials. “As the viewer teases these ideas apart, they’re going to discover other meanings,” commented Respess. “If I’ve done my job right, what I’ve done is created a little nexus – a little object that people can interact with.” The name of the sculpture, Shugoweh I, was derived from the way Respess’s young grandchildren would say “shoo, go away.” Jim Respess is an accomplished artist who resides in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he is a member of the McGuffey Art Association.
Hill CLimb BY JIM Collins
Perpetually climbing up a steep hill, these cyclists are constructed out of solid aluminum. As the riders move further up the hill, their silhouettes begin to shrink, establishing perspective and depth. This sculpture not only represents Roanoke’s focus on outdoor recreation and cycling, but also a rise in urban commuting. “A lot of bike tours involve mountains and we’ve got mountains around here,” said Collins. “This piece is both urban and Appalachian.” Collins is a published author and accomplished Public Art sculpture who has public collections in the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville, Huntington Museum of Art, Milwaukee Art Center, Ireland and more.
Fiddlehead BY David Boyajian
Inspired by the movement of an unfurling fiddlehead fern, Boyajian constructed this 500-pound steel sculpture. Instead of starting with a common cubic form, the artist worked with a triangulated steel form. “It has a gestural movement to it – changing direction while it’s opening up,” commented Boyajian. When asked about the significance of public art, Boyajian considers Elmwood Park to be the perfect venue for an art walk. “You have a bandshell concert venue right here, so you have the performing arts and visual arts working together to create a very beautiful cross-over dialogue,” said Boyajian. “What’s great about public art, is that it’s accessible to everyone. No matter what your demographic is or where you’re from, the City of Roanoke providing a venue, kind of like a museum in the street if you will, where anyone can come down here, stroll through the park and look at the art.”
David Boyajian is an accomplished artist, art instructor and the owner of a studio in New Fairfield, CT, where he has been teaching sculpture for 14 years. His exhibitions have received praise from The New York Times and Review Magazine.
Dancing in the Moonlight BY Jordan Parah
Parah uses contrasting forms, shapes, and colors to establish a sense of harmony. “I relate this to the idea of people and how all people are different, yet all are equal,” comments Parah. Drawing inspiration from natural elements, such as the wind, fire, and water, Parah believes that nature is unifying. “They’re all elements that people can relate to.” The artist started with two 4 x 10′ sheets of steel, which she plasma cut into organic shapes and then welded together. The final composition, Dancing in the Moonlight, evokes the radiating glow of the moon and stars on clouds in a night sky. “I’m thrilled to be sharing my work with the community here and also to be exhibiting with the other talented artists,” Parah added. Jordan Parah currently works at the City Art Gallery while maintaining a studio in Greenville, NC. Her work has been showcased in public and private collections throughout North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.
Edge of Decision BY Tom Holmes
As they say, “one’s man trash is another man’s treasure.” In this case, industrial waste has been transformed into a visually engaging piece of public artwork. The artist retrieved scrap steel and stainless steel from industrial facilities to construct Edge of Decision, a unique cubic sculpture that balances on a single point. “[Elmwood Park] is a beautiful location with nice viewpoints,” remarked Holmes. “It’s fantastic for the public to be able to see the sculptures that are here, and I’m just glad that I got placed in the park.”
Tom Holmes is an artist, sculptor, and musician living in Pennsylvania who specializes in working with stone, metal, wood, light, ice and water. His work has been showcased in museums and collections worldwide, including an international exhibit in Paris’s LuDAP Sculpture Park.
Brave New World BY Glenn Zweygardt
Completed in 2017, this sculpture represents the world’s transformation – both culturally and environmentally. “We’re living in a time when there is more CO2 in the atmosphere than we’ve ever seen before,” commented Zweygardt. When constructing the piece, the artist asked himself questions regarding human values and our attention to pressing environmental issues. “Those are the thoughts and feelings that I tried to actualize through the use of powder coated ductal iron castings, bronze castings, cast glass, fabricated steel, and of course, a traditional column that represents the American values that we started with in the 1700s.”
Zweygardt’s work has gained international recognition and membership to the Berman Group, an elite cooperative of modernist sculptors. He currently works and teaches in Alfred Station, NY.
SoW Above, So Below BY Lee Badger
Standing at eight feet tall, this kinetic metal sculpture was inspired by the common phrase, “what you sow, you shall reap.” “What we put out in the world is what we’re going to get back,” commented Badger. As the wind blows, the profile in the sculpture spins on an axis, establishing circular motion. In 1998, Badger built the Anvil Works studio and metal shop in Hedgesville, WV, where is the owner, director, and leading designer-craftsman. Over the years, his work has earned awards in museum and gallery exhibitions and he is a Juried Member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen.
One Day in a City BY Dmitrii Volkov
Constructed out of steel and wood, One Day in a City was created by Dmitrii Volkov, a Russian artist, jeweler, and designer.
Have a favorite piece?
During Festival in the Park, May 26-28, viewers will have a chance to vote on their favorite piece, and the winning artist will receive a People’s Choice Award. Vote online at www.facebook.com/artinroanoke or look for the Roanoke Arts Commission tent at Festival in the Park.