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Public arts commission installs people's choice winner

Staff Photo: Keith Farner New Jersey artist Eluisa Altman visited Suwanee on Monday to install a bronze artwork, "Mother and Child," that she made, which was the "people's choice" winner from the 2011 SculpTour exhibit.

Staff Photo: Keith Farner New Jersey artist Eluisa Altman visited Suwanee on Monday to install a bronze artwork, "Mother and Child," that she made, which was the "people's choice" winner from the 2011 SculpTour exhibit.

SUWANEE -- It's a one-of-a-kind piece, and the woman who created it drove from New Jersey with her husband to watch it be installed last week.

Town Center Park's newest edition, the 2011 SculpTour's people's choice winner, "Mother and Child," was installed on Monday between City Hall and the Big Splash Fountain. Artist Eluisa Altman was on hand with Mayor Jimmy Burnette, Denise Brinson, the city's economic and community development director, Linnea Miller, the city's public arts commission chair, and several employees from the public works department.

"I feel so proud," Altman said. "I feel so happy, and blessed. This is a beautiful community, I'm glad we came to visit."

The piece received the most online and paper ballot votes out of the 15 SculpTour pieces, and was purchased by the Public Arts Commission for $15,000. It was recently recast in bronze for public display, and is a permanent piece of the city's art collection. The piece weighs about 200 pounds, Altman said.

"I like to think this piece is the beginning to permanent art in the city of Suwanee," Miller said. "I believe public art adds a sense of place, and culture."

Altman, a native of Brazil, lives in Bogota, N.J., with her husband, Tom. Altman developed the piece in resin and cement for other cities, such as Teaneck, N.J., Blue Springs, Mo., and Sioux Falls, S.D. This is the first piece cast in bronze.

She appreciated that people in cities like Suwanee saw her inspiration in the piece.

"The child is a continuation of the mother, and as the child starts to pull away and the mother sticks her arms as far as they go to hold on to her," Altman said of the artwork. "This happens to a lot of families I'm sure, to try and hold on to their children. This is a family sculpture."

Altman has been a commissioned artist for about 15 years, after she worked in accounting and social work.

"I should have followed art like one of my teachers mentioned when I was in high school," she said. "I had to choose something more permanent that would guarantee me a future. I didn't realize that art had so much to offer."

The Altmans said they looked forward to a drive around Suwanee, and planned to be in the state for a week. Eluisa Altman said she looked forward to a return trip when the trees around Town Center are more mature.

"Where it's displayed makes a difference," Tom Altman said. "This is a really nice area to have a sculpture displayed. It expresses a very simple value of mother and child. It evokes strong feelings, but it's certainly not controversial in any way. With fountains here, and children. This has a lot of charm."