By Marilyn Delk
Downtown Troy first began hosting fascinating displays of intriguing sculptures in 2003, when the realistic work of beloved artist Seward Johnson attracted hundreds to town; his popular work returned two years later for the second “Sculptures on the Square” exhibit, once again drawing onlookers to traipse the streets to study and delight in the life-size renderings of people engaged in familiar day-to-day activities. Since that time, the biennial exhibition of diverse and interesting works of art has become a much anticipated tradition attracting the attention of arts lovers and curiosity seekers to downtown Troy. In addition to the return of sculptures by Seward Johnson, exhibits in other years have featured steel bicycles, work created to recognize and honor the local legacy of iconic WACO bi-planes, and a tribute honoring Ohio’s rich history of flight and aviation. The expansive theme for this year’s show,“Wind and Water,” offers much opportunity for imagination and creativity, as well as artistic skill.
Based on Troy’s location on the Great Miami River, the theme is realistically represented by some artists, and pictured in the abstract by others such as Chris Plaisted, an artist who says he is drawn to travel, architecture, and water; his sturdy yet graceful sculpture, “Waves” aptly and beautifully represents the show’s subject in an indirect manner. Conversely, “Last One In” is somewhat reminiscent of the work by Seward Johnson in that no doubt exists as to the meaning of Hoosier artist James Haire’s true to life depiction of a boy on a rope descending into a swimming hole.
Not far up the street, Gerry Newcom’s “Blue Spire” reaches elegantly upward, encouraging the viewer to explore the work from different perspectives to perceive its ultimate message. “Breezin” by Jim Wolnowsky creatively, yet realistically depicts its subject in a graceful abstract expressionistic sculpture that delights the eye and spirit of viewers. “Summer Wind” by award-winning South Carolina artist Bob Doster is both substantial and ethereal, its rugged solid form augmenting the monument’s artistry and grace.
“Moonscape” by retired sculpture professor Tess Little intriguingly shows a wave of multiple moons floating through a circular metal frame. “Blowing In the Wind,” created by Virginian Sally Myers, colorfully displays tall colorful blooms, well, blowing in the wind, in a realistic contemporary piece. “Bells Ringing in the Sky” skillfully uses formerly abandoned articles, blue bells of assorted sizes, to create a new and valuable object, a fitting intention for artist Jennifer Meyer, who is also a licensed clinical counselor. The same artist also created “Meeting in the Middle,” in which two sculptured circles enhanced by stacked stones creatively overlap. Former GM marketing professional Kelly O’Neill says that her art is “the fusion of iron and earth,” providing an apt description of her “Galaxy” which features a fascinating array of colorful circles.
“Wings of the Phoenix” by Jenny Hager, Professor of Sculpture at the University of North Florida, somehow uplifts spirits as it gracefully reaches upward. Former Agriculture teacher Jonathon Chandler, who prides himself on creating accessible art that everyone can enjoy, happily achieves that goal with his “Bouquet of Sunflowers,” made with “found materials.” Robert Porreca, who lives and works in Columbus, created a fascinating image of windblown creatures “Weathering the Storm,” using materials intended for automotive, marine and aerospace industries.
The lone Troy resident to have work included in this exhibit is William Smith III, whose “Steampunk,” a charmingly attractive piece based on the structure of a windmill, is both old-fashioned and modernistic at the same time. A similar yet totally different piece by Detroit-based artist Eric Troffkin is “Windy Tower,” a colorful modernistic take based on the form of a windsock.
And that’s not all of the beauty and wonder that awaits on the streets of our Miami County neighbor. A walk around downtown Troy will charm, entertain, and possibly inspire you with its art, and perhaps entice you to check out other attractions such as shops and restaurants as well as the always inviting Hayner Cultural Center— it’s a short drive to an enjoyable mini-vacation before summer ends!