Writer and Photographer  /  Joyce Long

When browsing Greater Greenwood Arts Council’s (GGAC) website, greenwoodarts.org, you’ll immediately notice its main characteristics — color and design. It’s quite fitting for a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “advance and promote the visual, performing and literary arts in the Greater Greenwood Community.”

You’ll also discover how active this group is locally. As a community connector, GGAC collaborates with a variety of businesses and organizations. In conjunction with Mallow Run Winery, it sponsors a bi-annual contest, Art Uncorked!

Local artists submit original design labels for Mallow Run’s Artist Series wine via GGAC’s website. Co-owner John Richardson emphasized Mallow Run appreciates their association with GGAC. “We love supporting the arts in our community. Usually the Artist Series wine is something new we’re introducing.”

Looking forward to involving more of the community and businesses with the arts, the GGAC board of directors is planning a redesigned Arts Alive! — an interactive event featuring local artists and their talent which will debut in 2017. GGAC’s next event, Art for the Ages Community Art Show, is scheduled for April 22 from 6-8 p.m. at the Greenwood Public Library.

Public Art on the Trailway
They catch your eye despite traffic. Since 2012, sculptures have greeted walkers, runners and parents pushing strollers on the trail along Smith Valley Road east of Meridian Street. That’s about to change.

Leased for the past two years, Art on the Trailway — “Seed” by Sam Spiczka, “Iris” by Scott Westphal and “Colonization of Commonality” by Quincy Owens — will be replaced mid-April, according to GGAC’s Vice President of Development Karen Wilkerson. “We would love to expand and install four new sculptures this year. This has been a really good partnership with the Greenwood Parks Department,” said Wilkerson.

Incoming GGAC President Barbara Dunn Stear remembers the community’s initial response to the sculptures: “It has been 99 percent positive. I have enjoyed watching citizens interacting with the sculptures and have heard many fine compliments and answered a few questions. We did have a few people who didn’t understand the provocative nature of abstract art. But it caused a conversation, and that is part of what art should produce.”

Without the support of the Greenwood Parks Department and the Johnson County Community Foundation along with a donation by D&M Concrete, the current public art would not have been possible. “We would love to expand because this helps Johnson County increase its brand and culture,” said Wilkerson.

To date, both Sertoma Club of Greenwood and Greenwood Parks Department have committed to sponsoring the 2016-18 public art to help fund the four leased sculptures budgeted at $12,000. Two years ago, the parks department purchased “StriderII,” the permanent sculpture by John Merigian.

Involvement Opportunities
Stear praised the dedication of the Greenwood Parks Department in its commitment to public art. However, more sponsors are needed. GGAC will provide packets that detail the different levels of participation and labeling to interested parties. Potential sponsors may contact Karen Wilkerson at 317-432-1093 or kwilkerson48@gmail.com.

“We hope this is a beginning for public art to become prevalent in our area,” said Wilkerson. With more sponsors, White River Township could feature public art on the roundabout at Fairview and Morgantown Roads and at Independence Park.

A panel comprised by members of both the Indy and Columbus Arts Councils will select the 2016-18 art by mid-March. GGAC’s Vice President of Public Relations Lynsey Gregg will gather the jury for this selection. Other officers include Laura Richardson serving as treasurer and John Reames as secretary. The GGAC 16-member board of directors invites the public to attend the Artist Reception Friday, May 6. Check the website for more details.

Stear emphasized the need for more volunteers to help with GGAC events. “One of our primary goals for 2016 is to encourage volunteers to engage with the Arts Council on a specific task or event. This year, we have a Community Art Show slated for the month of May, a concert coming up in September, an art wine label to choose and sculptures to place. We need marketing, public relations and finance volunteers as well as social media gurus.” If interested, contact GGAC at greenwoodarts.org/volunteer.php.

Community Value
Stear believes public art makes a huge statement about a community. “Someone made this point to me while relating it to traveling. When you go to a new place, what do you want to visit and experience? I bet you will say the food and art. They create memorable and lasting impressions and interesting conversation.”

Wilkerson echoes this belief. “Life is enhanced by art. To bring art experiences to our community provides a quality of life cherished by people of all cultures and economic backgrounds.”

Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers agrees and advocates for local arts. “The arts are alive and thriving in Greenwood and a part of what is great about our city. That is especially true for the Greater Greenwood Arts Council who is actively working to educate the community about all types of local art forms.”

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