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The Daylily Sculpture by Jim Bradford resides in Buford’s Main Street Park.

Buford’s Stonehedge Garden Club found itself with “some extra funds” last year. According to the club’s representative, Mary Alice Beard, this situation generated a host of ideas when someone said, “We need to do something with this money!”

The main idea was to gift something to beautify or enhance Buford’s public environment.

“Someone said, ‘Let’s put up a bench.’ But there were already enough benches,” Beard said. “Someone said ‘Let’s do a statue.’ But everyone thought that would be too expensive.”

Then the idea of a Daylily Sculpture took hold in the imaginations of club members as that flower is the club’s symbol. Jim Bradford, a sculptor who lives in Buford, was approached with the idea to see if this was feasible and affordable.

City Manager Bryan Kerlin mentioned the project to Buford’s commissioners, and suddenly a lot of attention was being paid to the idea.

And Bradford’s idea wasn’t so little.

His concept was a 16-foot tall daylily to be placed at the Historic Buford Main Street Park and Amphitheater, located at 400 East Main Street in Buford. It would feature stainless steel stems and copper flower leaves. It would move slightly in the wind.

Everyone was enthusiastic about the beautiful concept. Now, how to pay for it?

The Stonehedge seed money started the project off, but more was needed. Members approached individual donors. The city pledged covering the labor and the land. Charles Black Construction was hired to create a space within the existing park where the sculpture would be placed. Donors included Dynacraft BSC, Inc., Shari Johnson and Ernie Bahm, Cindy LaTouf and Mary Alice Beard, GiGi and Buddy Maughon, Mighty 8th Media and Peoples Bank and Trust.

Other funding was raised by individuals contributing “In Honor” of a loved one. The names honored are Doris “Dot” Kilgore Beard, Donnis Cheek Bowman, Selma Medlock Cheeley, Mae Alice Coleman and “Mac” Miller.

The statue was ready during the winter. But COVID-19 was still an issue, and the club believed their beautiful daylily needed to be introduced in the spring.

On May 4, the statue was officially dedicated to the public. Attending were State Senator Butch Miller, Buford City officials, Stonehedge Garden Club members and representatives of the Garden Clubs of Georgia.

Public art is increasingly the type of project that cities across the country are taking on to beautify their towns, but also to celebrate and support the arts. Bradford even added an educational component by including directional plaques on each side of the flower’s base: pointing north, south, east and west.

Jonathan Holmes, Chairman of Artworks Gwinnett, commends Stonehedge Garden Club: “Creative placemaking is a large component of the Artworks and Gwinnett County strategy in driving the creative economy and quality of life for our citizens.”

The sculpture is obviously a great success. Says Mary Alice Beard, “I have never passed by the sculpture that there weren’t people sitting there admiring it.”

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@ mindspring.com.

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