Tuesday, November 05, 2013

TOP STORY >> Library eyes $80,000 sculpture

Leader staff writer

The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) unveiled plans last week for an $80,000 metal sculpture to be installed at the Esther D. Nixon Library in Jacksonville.

The art will be placed at the front of the building, on the pathway leading patrons from West Main Street to the library’s front doors.

Created by artist Alice Guffey Miller of Monticello, the aluminum art work will be comprised of six octagon- shaped aluminum columns. The hollow columns will have lighting inside to make them glow like jack-o’-lanterns.

Around 500 initials will be cut into the metal columns to represent community leaders, students and library patrons.

The first two columns will be 8 feet tall, followed by two 10-foot tall columns and two 12-foot tall columns.

The pillars will lead the way to the whimsical girl holding a book that will complete the artwork.

CALS director Bobby Roberts said the plan is to have a sculpture for all of the library system’s buildings within the next 10 years.

Roberts said CALS will be providing $32,000 to install and finish the piece at Nixon Library.

That amount is 1 percent of the cost of the $3.2 million Nixon library building.

The remaining money needed for the sculpture will be collected through fundraising efforts, larger donations from local philanthropists and smaller amounts from what people can afford to give, officials say.

No timetable was given for when the metalwork would be installed, as funding is needed first.

A miniature of the work can be viewed in one the display cases in the library’s lobby. And the public is encouraged to leave comments on the project at the library.

A CALS committee selected Miller’s project from four submissions. The criteria for the art sculpture project were to use an Arkansas artist if possible, that the piece be unique and creative, that the work involve the public and that it be something the community is interested in.

“Every project is different. The scale has to be right for the building,” Roberts said.

The columns reflect the architecture of the Nixon Library.

CALS board of trustees Jacksonville representative Kirby Miraglia said, “We all loved Alice’s work. She was great about getting feedback. We love our city and want to stay involved with it.”

The mayor said, “I like it. I’m ready to see the lady dancing on Main Street.”

Miller’s metal work of eight dancers and a fiddler can be seen at the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock.

Her art is also on display at the Bernice Sculpture Garden at 1401 S. Main St., Little Rock.

And, several years ago, Miller created two concrete dragon sculptures and a sitting area at a courtyard of Cabot Middle School South.