Three local artists chosen for Brownsville’s Creative Wayfinding project
Brownsville Tennessee (October 1, 2018): The City of Brownsville announced today its choices for the artists who will create a unique series of metal sculptures to serve as a wayfinding system for the city. The artists are Belinda Sellari, Roy Hawkins and Tom Veirs. The project is funded through a Delta Regional Authority (DRA) Creative Placemaking Grant.
“We are excited that the artists chosen are all Haywood County natives,” said Brownsville Mayor Bill Rawls. “Each have proposed sculptures that encompasses the essence of our community, from music to cotton to the abstract – all using the Mindfield as inspiration. These designs say ‘Brownsville.'”
Two proposals from each artist were chosen for the project which calls for metal sculpture to be used as public art and wayfinding. The artists were asked to use Brownsville’s Mindfield sculpture as inspiration and create pieces that represent the community.
Belinda Sellari has a special interest in the project, not only is she an outstanding artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in sculpture, she has been promoting the Mindfield and other tourism assets for years. She served as Tourism Director under former Mayor Webb Banks, and among her many accomplishments were the opening of the Sleepy John Estes Home, the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center and the naming of Highway 19 as Tina Turner Highway.
“Providing an additional sculpture for our community would be an honor,” says Sellari. “I really do believe Brownsville could be branded as a sculpture spot.”
Roy Hawkins holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art and Masters of Arts in Teaching – Art Education. He has studied abroad at the Florence Italy University of the Arts and taught art in the Haywood County School system before opening his own gallery on the Brownsville Court Square. Hawkins doesn’t limit himself to one medium or theme, but is always striving to express himself by paying close attention to the beauty of everyday objects and places.
“I see this as an opportunity to contribute to the allure, artistry and overall charm of my hometown,” said Hawkins. “It also allows me to use my creativity in constructing a work of art with recycled and reclaimed materials that is good for the environment.”
Tom Veirs is an abstract painter whose experience as a visual artist began 10 years ago when he started his painting career in Boston, Mass. He currently lives in Nashville, but has stayed close to his Brownsville roots – his mother was also a painter in her spare time and his father a Brownsville businessman. Veirs’ works can be seen in galleries in Massachusetts, Vermont and Nashville and says that painting everyday is his catalyst for learning.
“My interest in the project is close to home,” says Veirs, “I went to school in Brownsville and have remained close to the area all my life. My sculpture designs are intended to be visually dramatic, capturing your attention and driving you to seek out the locations – saying this is a community involved in the arts.”
The artists will each partner with welding students at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) to create the large metal pieces that will be placed at strategic locations throughout Brownsville. This partnership will give students real time experience using their learned skills. A plaque will be placed with each art work commemorating the partnership.
“This is the exciting part – an opportunity to broaden Brownsville’s reputation as an arts community,” says Achana Jarrett, Brownsville Arts Council director. “Working with the City, TCAT, Delta Heritage Center and Main Street, we are sending the message that Brownsville cares about the arts – all forms of art.”
The project will begin immediately and installation of the sculptures will take place as each is finished. The project is expected to take a little more than a year to complete.
About DRA Creative Placemaking: The Delta Regional Authority (DRA), in partnership with leading national arts and government organizations, launched its pilot Delta Creative Placemaking Initiative (DCPI) in 2017, to strengthen the Delta economy and improve the quality of life for the region’s 10 million people residing in the Mississippi River Delta region and Alabama Black Belt. The DRA allocated $309,000 in seed investments for 16 community projects across eight states to stimulate economic and community development through supporting the Delta’s arts and cultural sectors. Along with public and private sector partners, total DCPI investment will reach $1.6 million.
The City of Brownsville, partnering with the Brownsville Arts Council and TCAT, received a $35,000 grant that combines tourism and education to promote the arts. Partnering local TCAT welding students with artists to construct metal sculpture to be used as a wayfinding system for the city’s attractions. The grant provides a commission to the artist as well as funds for materials.
Funding for the printed signs, as well as additional signs and poles to complete the wayfinding system, was made possible through a Tennessee Asset Enhancement (TAE) Grant applied for through the Chamber of Commerce and administered through Main Street Brownsville.