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True colors: Walkable exhibit highlights local sculptures

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. "Bright Idea" by Lori Sturgess of Roswell is on display in front of the Suwanee City Hall as part of the city's Sculptour event, an approximately one-mile walkable exhibit of original, outdoor sculptures that will be displayed nearly year-round.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. "Bright Idea" by Lori Sturgess of Roswell is on display in front of the Suwanee City Hall as part of the city's Sculptour event, an approximately one-mile walkable exhibit of original, outdoor sculptures that will be displayed nearly year-round.

SUWANEE -- Ten-year-old Kelly Quarez showed no fear standing next to a larger-than-life-sized tarantula.

In a different scenario she would be screaming for her life at the sight of a spider. But not in this instance. The tarantula may look life-like, but it's just a harmless sculpture.

"It looks like a spider," she said. "I'm normally scared of real spiders but this one isn't," she said as she posed by the arachnid sculpture.

The arachnid is about knee tall and 10 feet in diameter and it weighs approximately 200 pounds.

The sculpture is one of 15 privately funded pieces displayed throughout Suwanee Town Center, loaned from various artists and four pieces from Suwanee's own public art. The sculptures are a part of the 2011 Suwanee Sculptour, an approximately one-mile walkable exhibit of original, outdoor sculptures that will be displayed nearly year-round.

The idea for Sculptour came from a similar program in Columbus.

Denise B. Brinson, economic and community development director said that the Suwanee City Council usually takes a retreat to a city outside of Gwinnett and takes time to look at the different art forms displayed in that city.

"During our retreat we walked downtown Columbus and there was like a sculpture on every street corner, and we modeled our program after theirs," Brinson said.

The program allows for the artists to showcase their work to the community and it also enhances the city's quality of life and economic vitality.

Lynne Dewilde, public information officer for Suwanee, said that she believes public art is critical to enhancing quality of life and to building an identity for the community.

"We can't think of any exciting, vibrant cities -- big or small -- throughout the country that do not have a public art component, so we feel it really enriches the quality of life for our community," Dewilde said.

The sculptures can prove to be both an aesthetic and interactive value for the community.

Aside from vewing the sculptures, community members and visitors have the option to vote for their favorite sculpture in July by visiting suwanee.com/whatsnew.sculptour.php.

The artist with the winning sculpture will be given compensation, in addition to having the sculpture added to the city of Suwanee's permanent collection.

Brinson said that she sees public arts as not only a way to engage the community but also an economic tool.

"We want Suwanee to be a creative place, a place where people want to live or start a business," she said. "Businesses like showcasing Town Center to their clients, Sculptour adds to that."