Art Beat: Suwanee does part to encourage public art

The city of Suwanee is at it again. In 2007, this lovely village of 16,000 was named one of Money Magazine's 10 best small towns in the United States. Now Suwanee's leadership is raising the "quality of living" bar even higher by supporting public art.

A Public Arts Commission of the City of Suwanee has been organized and has plans that go from the new Suwanee City Hall to the city at large.

This new 24,000-square-foot city hall is scheduled for completion in 2009. The Public Arts Commission sees this as a perfect statement and example of its commitment to its purpose, and it has put out a call to artists. The commission is seeking three pieces of art to be displayed in prominent settings within and around the new building. This request has gone out to numerous individuals around the country. The chosen artist would design, create and supervise installation of one, two or all three works in as beautiful a setting as any artist could desire.

The city hopes to commission, acquire and install all three works, although depending on the budget, only one or two pieces will be acquired at first.

Suwanee's Economic and Community Development Director Denise Brinson is very enthusiastic about the project.

"We have had a number of responses from some very exciting artists," Brinson said. "One has been exhibited at the High Museum in Atlanta. Others also have wonderful credentials."

Artists should be excited by the potential to create work for the new City Hall. The three public art projects are:

· A pair of kinetic sculptures, approximately 20 to 22 feet high, to be suspended from exposed rafters on the barrel-vaulted ceiling in the building's two-story lobby.

· A static or kinetic sculpture, approximately 10 to 12 feet high, for placement on a large grass area outside the building's main entrance. Should the proposed design lend itself to two areas, the grass area on both sides of the entrance could be used.

· A pair of pieces in any medium, approximately 8 feet high by 4 feet wide, to be installed on facing walls flanking the left and right side of the second floor lobby.

With its modern brick, stone and glass face and arched roof, the new City Hall will recall the look of late 19th and early 20th century railroad stations. Other architectural features include a grand foyer framed by two staircases, terrazzo tile floors, and a barrel-vaulted two story ceiling in the lobby that extends through the large meeting space on the second floor. Exterior features include a 100 foot tall clock tower. The building will also be a certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building.

"Our public arts initiative will go beyond City Hall," Brinson said. "We want art to be a large part of life in Suwanee."

Contractors of new buildings will be encouraged to use public art through meetings with the commission, and parks and other public spaces will be perfect settings for art to be enjoyed by all. For more information, contact the City of Suwanee through www.suwanee.com.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail hcalmes@mindspring.com.