Larger Than Life:

The Public Art Exhibition on Hilton Head Island

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If the 2015 Public Art Exhibition isn’t on your radar, Pink wants to enhance your detector system. This is a Lowcountry event that needs to be on every resident’s—and guest’s—to do list. Located on the grounds of Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn, the exhibit features 19 dramatic large-scale sculptures by artists from around the country, including our own local artist, Kevin Eichner.

These pieces, set amidst Honey Horn’s iconic live oaks, camellia garden, butterfly house and acres of lush winding trails, set up an interplay between the creative force of humans and the exquisite natural beauty of the Lowcountry that enhances both.

The play of light on the sculptors’ materials—ranging from Texas-pink granite to steel (painted, polished, powder coated, mirrored and recycled) to ceramic brick and wood to aluminum—creates constant shifts in perspective, color and contrast that make the pieces radically different depending on whether they’re viewed in early morning, noon or late afternoon.

This visual extravaganza is being held for the third time in six years. The Public Art Exhibition is hosted by the Public Art Fund, part of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. The Public Art Fund was initially established to commission large-scale sculptures to donate to the town of Hilton Head. Its major objective is to serve as a conservator by offering residents and visitors exposure to public art, while building the Town’s public art collection. Beth Mayo, chair of the Public Art Fund committee said, “The exhibition was an exciting outgrowth of those efforts.” Cheers to brilliant afterthoughts!

The first—and only—piece to be commissioned was the “Charles E. Fraser Walking the Gator” bronze statue located in Hilton Head’s Compass Rose Park. Savannah artist Susie Chisolm and Texas based artist Darrell Davis created the sculpture and the Town of Hilton Head received it in 2010.

Now, the committee no longer commissions pieces, but asks the community to get involved in the selection by casting votes for their favorite piece in the exhibition. Paper ballots (available at the Discovery Museum) as well as online ballots enable exhibition visitors to vote for the top three “best in show” pieces. Selected artists receive cash prizes. The Public Art Fund then purchases the winner.
The first exhibition winner was “Family” by North Carolina artist Jonathan Bowling. It now resides in Chaplin Linear Park on 278. Look for the graceful, rustic family of horses constructed of farm implements.

The committee was able to secure three sculptures at the second exhibition in 2013. The Purchase Prize Winner was “Carocol” by New York artist John Clement and was recently installed in Shelter Cove Community Park. “Sail Around: by Wayne Trapp is at the corner of 278 and Arrow Road. “Sandy Roads” by Hilton Head artist Mark Larkin is awaiting installation.

The Public Art Fund coordinates with schools, other nonprofit art groups and neighborhood conservancies to offer educational opportunities to both children and adults. Their ultimate goal is to provide Hilton Head with art that inspires and unites the community. Mayo says, “Public art can revitalize geographic areas, increase a sense of community pride and identity and attract both residents and visitors.

Recently, on a clear crisp autumn afternoon I drove my visiting college roommate (from decades past) to the exhibit. It was late afternoon; the light was low and golden. We spent a couple of magical hours strolling, looking and commenting. I had been before on a humid cloudy day; it was astounding how the light changed everything. We came in and cast our ballots. If you want to give someone—including yourself—a memorable and special gift take them to Honey Horn before this majestic art exhibit leaves.

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