OCEAN SPRINGS -- The city has accepted the latest piece of art from an organization dedicated to buying and placing sculpture in public places around town.
The piece is an intricate metal sculpture of yellow wildflowers by nationally recognized local artist Trailer McQuilkin.
He and his wife, Sharon, used to own Art Who?, a gallery on Washington Avenue, and Sharon McQuilkin has helped acquire art at a good price for PAPOS, the Public Arts Project of Ocean Springs.
PAPOS has bought the McQuilkin piece, titled Seed Box. Herb Moore, a founding member of PAPOS, told aldermen Tuesday night he has the perfect place for the small sculpture to live -- in the lobby of City Hall, in front of the mayor's office.
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People coming to pay their water bills can enjoy it, he said. PAPOS has adopted artist Pablo Picasso's thought that "art washes the dust of daily life off our souls."
Other sculpture purchased and placed around town include the large stone piece at the entrance to the library, the stone-and-metal artwork in Keys Park and the mobile sculpture in the Little Children's Park on Washington Avenue.
Minimizing vandals' damage
Vandals damaged a set of three glass pieces that had been in the parking lot of the Chamber of Commerce at the entrance to the city. Moore, with Alderman Chic Cody's input, suggested the two pieces salvaged from that installation be placed inside the Civic Center on U.S. 90 -- more protected, but still visible in the glass foyer.
Seed Box is the sixth piece of art PAPOS has acquired for the city in the past 10 years. And the organization is seeking a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission to help with a seventh. The art is paid for by residents' contributions. The original concept was 100 people giving $100 a year, PAPOS member Melanie Allen told the board. And because of the group's connections, the buying power of that money is 4-to-1.
Most city leaders pony up
The mayor contributes already and most of the board members pledged Tuesday to help, either with their own money or money the city sets aside for their wards. Matt McDonnell didn't commit, but said he'd think about it.
Alderman John Gill said, "I've often thought we didn't have enough art at City Hall."
The board voted to accept the sixth piece of public art on behalf of the city. The city now insures all the pieces it accepts.
The goal when PAPOS was formed was to buy five pieces, Allen told the board. But she and Moore said they would like to help Ocean Springs acquire a collection of McQuilkin's work. They likened him to a modern-day Walter Anderson, appreciated nationally, but lesser known in his own town.
"In the '50s and '60s, no one thought much about Walter Anderson," Moore told the board.
McQuilkin is known for his re-creations of wildflowers in copper that captures the delicate fauna, with added details of what might be on the ground around the plants.
Moore said Callaway Gardens near Columbus, Ga., has a standing exhibit of 42 pieces of McQuilkin's work, donated by a patron. They are representations of wildflowers in the state. Longue Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans has 20 pieces on permanent display.