The AVA Gallery and Art Center, Lebanon Recreation and Parks and the Mascoma River Greenway Coalition have partnered in a program to commission two winning artists to design, fabricate, and install public sculptural artworks for long-term display along Lebanon’s new Rail Trail.  Submitting artists were encouraged to select themes related to Lebanon’s history, geography, natural environment, recreational activities, or railroad activities, and to incorporate salvaged railroad spikes.

The jury convened at AVA Gallery and Art Center on Saturday morning, April 14, 2018.  The jury included:  Rainey Kelly, leader in the Mascoma River Greenway Coalition; Charlet Davenport, Director of Sculpture Fest in Woodstock, VT; Rob Taylor, Executive Director of the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce; Jessica Giordani, Co-founder of Art City NH and co-owner of Scratch on Lebanon Mall; and Annie Zhao, junior at Lebanon High School and exhibitor in AVA’s 2018 Annual High School Exhibition.  Paul Coats, Director of Lebanon’s Dept. of Recreation and Parks and Trip Anderson, Executive Director of AVA Gallery, provided technical insights but did not vote in the process.

Two artist teams were recognized as the winning artists for their projects: Steel Umbrella by artists Justin O’Rourke and Margaret Jacobs; and Wheels by artist Susan K. Johnson.* 

From the jury: “The Steel Umbrella is absolutely joyful. It nods to Lebanon’s past as the City of Fountains. Its polka dots hint at the endangered spotted turtles discovered along the rail trail.  It whimsically celebrates the promise of brighter days ahead. Bravo!”

From the artists: “This piece follows in the tradition of honoring everyday objects. We chose an object that would be a fun and enjoyable landmark for the people using the Mascoma River Greenway. An umbrella alludes to the idea that the Mascoma River Greenway is a recreational opportunity that the public can use year-round, rain or shine. Also it is natural to relate umbrellas to rain and water, which brings up the discussion of climate change, environmental protection, and human impact on both.”

From the jury:Wheels encapsulates Lebanon’s history in a neat bundle – from water wheels to railroads and bicycles, with subtle references to the Mascoma River and the Greenway Rail Trail.”

From the artist: “The waterwheel represents Lebanon’s first sawmill, built in 1763 on the river in the western end of town. The steam engine wheel recalls the railroads that arrived in the 1840s. Today, we walk and bike the paved path which reclaims the beautiful views of the river and connects our city. The waterwheel encircles the train wheel, which supports a spin-able bicycle wheel. The river and railroad tracks intertwine in a representation of the current MRG, suspended at the top. “

Winning sculptures will be fabricated by June 30th and installed by mid-July in time for the Grand Opening of the Mascoma River Greenway in late July. Juried winners will be eligible for technical and installation assistance by the sculptural studies instructors at AVA Gallery and Art Center and granted access to the metal-working, wood-working, stone-carving and ceramics studios in the Bente Torjusen West Sculptural Studies Building.

Winners receive:

  • $2,500 award stipend, plus up to $2,000 reimbursement for materials & installation expenses
  • Technical and Installation assistance as noted above
  • Exposure in a scenic, well-traveled, pedestrian/bike path
  • A plaque at each site identifying the artist and his/her contact information
  • Inclusion in on-line promotions and trail maps
  • Active engagement with social media audience
  • Regular press releases to local and regional media outlets
  • Recognition at a Grand Opening Celebration

Special recognition is also extended to submitting artists for their thoughtful and creative designs:

  • Historical Collage Poles by Cindy Heath, Margaret Sheehan and Carla Kimball
  • Lebanon Labyrinth by Allison Zito
  • Railroad Spike Tree by Greg Stott
  • Spikes and Spokes by Debra Jayne
  • Stories to Tell by Margit Berman and Jeremy McDonald
  • Walking on Nails by Scott Wunderle, Patrick Jarvis, Courtney Venable, Lauren Ingersoll
  • Water Stop by Clive Maloney

(*UPDATED 4.17.18 @ 9:55am)