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Beginning next month, the Williamsburg Arts District is turning into an outdoor art gallery.
Twenty-two sculptures by 12 different artists are being installed in the City of Williamsburg’s arts district – in the area where Richmond Road meets Lafayette Street – starting in July.
The yearlong program is a city-driven effort to raise the visibility of the arts district through public art.
The Williamsburg Area Arts Commission solicited submissions from artists around the country for display in the Arts District. A 12-person jury selected the 22 sculptures that will be included in the display.
The pieces will be on display in several locations throughout the Arts District for their year in the city, including Chesapeake Bank, BB&T Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, City Green and the Tioga property at 906 Richmond Road.
City Arts Coordinator Terry Buntrock said she hoped the initial installation would kick start the creation of a permanent collection of artwork for display throughout the city.
Buntrock said one piece would be named by the selection jury as the critic’s choice, and would be purchased by the city for permanent display.
Each of the sculptures will be available for purchase, with costs ranging from $800 to $15,000 and an average cost of about $12,000. Buntrock said the city would receive a 30 percent commission for the sale of any of the sculptures during the yearlong display period.
The list of selected artists includes both local and regional names, including two from the Greater Williamsburg area, three others from Virginia, three from New York and one from North Carolina.
Buntrock said the city had raised $18,100 in private donations to fund the project, with about $13,000 marked for the delivery of the sculptures and their installation.
Buntrock delivered a presentation on the program to the Williamsburg City Council at its work session Monday. Council members were vocal in their support of the idea.
“It’s the kind of thing that we need to apply over and over and over again in the longer term if we really want to be known as an arts-oriented, arts-friendly, arts-interested community,” Vice Mayor Paul Freiling said.
Councilman Doug Pons agreed.
“Designating an Arts District doesn’t make an Arts District,” he said. “We have to have this type of infrastructure in place.”
Buntrock said she hoped the sculpture display could be an annual event for the Arts District.
The Arts District sculptures join 40 other sculptures that have been installed in the city as part of the Las Bicicletas traveling art exhibit, which came to Williamsburg in May for a six-month run.
The sculptures, by Mexican artist Gilberto Aceves Navarro, depict stylized and colorful representations of bicycles and riders.
Buntrock said the total cost to bring Las Bicicletas to Williamsburg was $37,500, but $14,500 in private donations was defraying the cost to the city.
Buntrock also said the Arts Commission was in talks to bring Aceves Navarro to the city as part of a multi-day tourism event this summer.
The theme for the inaugural sculpture display is “This Glorious Earth.” Buntrock said additional information on the exhibit and the pieces will be available on the Williamsburg Wayfinder smartphone app.