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Bronze sculptures of students coming to Cultural Arts Center

Published: Jun. 19, 2019 at 10:28 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Three sculptures will soon be coming to downtown Gadsden.

All three will depict children. One will be dancing, one will be playing violin, and one will be drawing in a sketchbook. Naturally, all three will be outside the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, at the corner of 5th Street and Broad Street in Downtown Gadsden.

“What we hope, is that these three sculptures will tell our story about what goes on inside,” center executive director Bobby Welch told WBRC. “There’s over 600 students that take a weekly lesson here, in music, in dance, and visual arts.

”The theory behind this is that these students came out of class, and spontaneously, the violinist played, the dancer danced, and the artist is drawing."

The exhibit will replace a plaque and signage devoted to “The Great Gadsden,” placed in 2000 when the National Conference of Mayors named Gadsden “the most livable city in America.” Welch says those will be relocated and presumably displayed elsewhere.

Welch says clay castings have already been made. They were sculpted by Clay Downing, whose work appears throughout Alabama. He says Downing was selected after a nationwide search, but he’s pleased it turned into an “all Alabama project.” Downey’s studio is in Mobile and the bronze casting is being done in Fairhope.

Welch says the sculptures will be installed August 17th, but the unveiling will be later in the day so as not to conflict with the Habitat for Humanity Dragon Boat Races that morning.

"Late that afternoon we'll unveil 'em and hear from the sculptor and from the donor, who says that the arts in Gadsden has made them feel welcome. They've grown up with it, they've educated their kids, and they want to give back."

The donor paying for the project is still anonymous. In fact the project has been going on for a year and a half, but wasn’t made public until Welch requested right-of-way access from the Gadsden City Council Tuesday. The council granted it in their regular meeting.

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