City of Columbia unveils new public art installation on Main Street

Main Street will be alive with the sound of drumming after the city of Columbia celebrated the unveiling of its newest public art piece Wednesday on Main Street. City officials, artists and community leaders gathered Wednesday morning to reveal the first sculpture secured through a new public art pilot program.

Artists Eileen Blyth and Mark Finley worked together to create the art installation entitled "Hanging" (photo by Kelly Petty).

Artists Eileen Blyth and Mark Finley worked together to create the art installation entitled “Hanging.” (photo by Kelly Petty)

“Public art is inspirational, thought-provoking and even more so when it’s interactive. ‘Hanging’ will give the public the opportunity not just to observe but to participate,” said Karel Givens, vice president of City Center Partnership, the organization that manages the downtown Business Improvement District (BID).

The piece entitled “Hanging” is in front of Drip coffee shop at 1441 Main St. It was created through a collaborative effort between artists Eileen Blyth and Mark Finley. The team was commissioned by Drip owner Sean McCrossin to create an installation that was interactive and  musical.

“We designed it so people can walk by and play or just sit and drink coffee,” Blyth said. “It’s a sense of community, a sense of belonging somewhere.”

The sculpture consists of five tank drums fabricated from propane tanks mounted to painted seats. Each drum has notches on its surface and is tuned differently to allow for unique harmonies to be played. The duo went through a number of ideas before settling on the drum-inspired piece.

“It was great fun,” Blyth said.

The sculpture is one of many projects coming to the city of Columbia through the public art initiative spearheaded by nonprofit One Columbia for Arts and History. Mayor Steve Benjamin said the piece represents the rebirth of Main Street that goes beyond businesses and introduces residents to the city’s vibrant art community.

Mayor Steve Benjamin bangs out a beat with a young resident (photo by Kelly Petty).

Mayor Steve Benjamin bangs out a beat with a young resident. (photo by Kelly Petty)

“From increasing funding to our arts and cultural organizations to displaying local artists’ work in City Hall, we have taken several important steps this year toward realizing our vision of Columbia as a true City of Creativity,” Benjamin said. “This sculpture and the new public art program it represents is a giant leap forward and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Blyth said the city’s public art project will create opportunities for other artists to create art to engage residents.

“It opens up a whole lot of opportunities for artists who haven’t done this before,” she said. “They pay you to do your craft.”

Lee Snelgrove, executive director of One Columbia, said the sculpture was made possible through a partnership between the city, the local business community and organizations like the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council and City Center Partnership.

“Public art can define a place and give it a distinctive and inviting personality,” Snelgrove said. “Because of the relationships that have been made in establishing this formal process for commissioning public art, we’ll be able to continue bringing work to Columbia that will demonstrate the level of creativity and talent in this city.”

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