Lebanon Rail Trail Public Art Installations

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)

AVA and the Valley News


The Valley News and AVA Gallery and Art Center invite you and your family to color, cut out, play with, share and enjoy prints made by local artists that are published in a large spread in the Saturday, September 10, 2016 newspaper.

The collaboration is part of an ongoing effort by AVA to put art directly in the hands of Upper Valley residents in partnership with local businesses and nonprofits—on grocery bags, on pizza boxes, on buses, and now—in the Valley News!

Pick up your copy on Saturday, Sept. 10 — and show us how you interact with the art!

Please tag @vnewsuv (Instagram and Twitter) and @avagallery_org (Instagram and Twitter) with the photos of your work, with hashtags #vnewsuv and #avagalleryandartcenter. You can also tag us on Facebook, too: Valley News and AVA Gallery and Art Center.

Have fun!

AVA Teen Street Art

2015 AVA Teen Street Art 1

2015 AVA Teen Street Art 2

2015 AVA Teen Street Art 3

2015 AVA Teen Street Art 4

In July 2015, teens in AVA’s Street Art camp, led by Christine Orcutt Henderson, researched the history of street art and created original paintings of their own design. The paintings will hang on the west fence of Lebanon’s Colburn Park through August 2015.

Spark! Community Art Center Prints


AVA Spark Public Art Print

During the spring of 2015, AVA’s Linocut and a Public Art Project class collaborated to create and donate a printmaking project to the Spark! Community Center. Natalia Callaghan, Edward English, Gwendolen Gensler, Bonita Libby, Todd Renninger, and Josh Yunger worked together to cut, ink and print two 24” x 36” prints of their building in the former Lebanon Junior High School.

Located at 75 Bank Street in Lebanon, the Spark! Community Center provides adults with special needs a valuable resource to positively affect all aspects of life. Many participants in AVA’s Art Lab program—our weekly art program for adults with special needs—are also active within the Spark! community, and the delightful relationships that have grown through the intersection of these two programs inspired this most recent public art project.



Public Art :: Lebanon Rail Trail

DSCN2395   DSCN2409

Take a walk, a run or a bicycle ride on the Northern Rail Trail between Spencer Street and Bank Street Extension and you will discover sculptures created by local youths and seasoned artists. These creations, which are primarily made from repurposed cardboard rolls, bring levity and play to the edges of the Rail Trail.

The participants in this project were Jeff MacQueen and Todd Renninger, Lebanon Middle School (LMS) art teachers; LMS students, Abigail Pauls, Chehalis Jones, Jillian Miller, Skye Gulledge and Brianna Arpaia; Janet Farley, Allison Flint, Nancy Maynard, Kelly McCarthy, Lucy and Eliza McLellan, Aimee Larson, Robin Weisburger and Althea Goundrey.


AVA Gallery and Art Center wishes to thank the participating artists for their imaginative projects, and the City of Lebanon and State of New Hampshire for encouragement and approval of making art part of everyday life!