Several commissioners disappointed with $1M sculpture contest options

“I don’t see any shape, way, form or fashion that this represents Augusta," District 5 Commissioner Bobby Williams said Tuesday

Several commissioners disappointed with $1M sculpture contest options

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Two well-known sculptors wowed a crowd last week when they unveiled their gateway designs to dozens of people. It’s part of the Greater Augusta Arts Council’s $1 million SPLOST-funded project. The goal is to commission artists to create three total sculptures - and this is just one of three parts of the competition.

Last week we showed you Georgia-based Gregory Johnson’s “Essence of Augusta”, which features bronze azaleas on a proposed 17-foot twisted frame. We also gave you a first look at North Carolina-based Thomas Sayre’s proposed 20-foot tall sculptural tower of stacked stones.

However, several Augusta commissioners want to go back to the drawing board.

“I just believe that Augusta deserves something that is representative of Augusta. I think many times we like, we adore, we admire artistic ability but I don’t think in this particular instance that we are making sure that we take into consideration what Augusta represents, whether or not a common man can look at it and say, ‘that represents Augusta’ and more so than anything that we make decisions that the majority of our constituents can look at and say, 'money well spent.” I’m not sure that’s exactly what we achieved at this point in time," said District 5 Commissioner Bobby Williams.

Augusta Recs and Parks Director Ron Houck said right now the artists have been paid $6,000 ($3,000 each) for their services.

“Six thousand dollars is something we have to sacrifice if we want to get it right,” Commissioner Bobby Williams said.

The original motion before Augusta’s commissioners was to vote on whether the next gateway sculpture would be placed at Sand Bar Ferry Road - now that’s on hold. Commissioners voted 7 to 2 to 1 to suspend the sculpture project for 30 days until they can discuss it more.

The sculpture currently up for debate would be erected at Riverwatch Parkway and Alexander Drive and the artist who wins this leg of the competition will be paid $215,000, according to Greater Augusta Arts Council Executive Director Brenda Durant.

View and vote for your favorite sculpture here.

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