Organizers in Rutland hope public sculptures will attract visitors and help celebrate the region’s long ties to the marble industry.
Green Mountain Power and local real estate developer Mark Foley are underwriting the first of what they hope will be a series of public art installations in Rutland. Foley’s company, MKF Properties, has restored multiple downtown buildings in recent years.
In a press release, Foley said, “Public arts projects add to a sense of community, can celebrate history and can become unique attractions that together can draw people to a community or downtown ... This project will do all three.”
Steve Costello, vice president for generation and energy innovation at Green Mountain Power, says the new public art series is an offshoot of the utility’s Rutland Blooms project, which Costello helped launch in 2013. That program has spearheaded efforts to plant flowers, shrubs and flowering trees across the city.
Costello says in addition to funding from GMP, he expects private donors to pay for many of the installations.
“My hope is over the next six to 10 years to do somewhere in the vicinity of 10 to 12 sculptures. Some of them may be bronze,” said Costello. “We actually have one of the leading bronze studios in North America in West Rutland, so we really want to use local talent as much as possible and some of the resources that we have right here in our backyard.”
Costello said the first statue will be a 10-ton life-sized figure of a stone carver designed by artist Steve Shaheen. Three artisans from Italy will craft the statue at West Rutland’s Carving Studio this summer.
The stone will be brought from Vermont Quarries’ Danby site in late July, with the Italians arriving Aug. 13.
The work should be complete by Sept. 9, and will be installed in downtown Rutland in October. The press release says organizers are working with city leaders to choose an exact site for the sculpture.