Downtown Turners Falls sculpture will pay tribute to village’s history

  • A small model sculpture of the one that will go up in downtown Turners Falls. Contributed photo

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/14/2016 11:22:05 PM

TURNERS FALLS — One artist is ready to rock downtown Turners Falls.

Local stone carver Tim de Christopher will install a stone sculpture in the mini-park on the corner of Avenue A and 3rd Street with help from a $6,000 grant from Turners Falls RiverCulture. The grant will help pay for materials and installation of a whimsical stone sculpture that pays tribute to both daily life and the history of Turners Falls. The sculpture will go up in the fall. RiverCulture, the organization that hopes to attract creative businesses and individuals to the region, first started receiving applications from artists in January.

A team of eight or nine judges selected the proposal out of 14 applicants from artists as far away as Seattle.

After the judges made their final decision, Montague Board of Selectmen approved the project at their regular meeting on Monday night.

Suzanne LoManto, director of Turners Falls RiverCulture, announced the results of the sculpture competition at the meeting. She said that while there were many qualified applicants, de Christopher’s work stood out as a good match for the town.

“His work is of the highest quality and we thought that his sculpture would enhance the park for some time,” said LoManto.

LoManto said the artist is a nationally known sculptor, who has worked all over the country. “Tim’s sculpture was one that we could live with for 80 years. He works with stone, so it has a timeless quality,” she said.

The sculpture’s theme will be “Rock-Paper-Scissors,” named for the mix of cultures and overlapping and competing needs in Turners Falls.

“Rock-Paper-Scissors, in this setting, serves as a parable for our evolving history and as a metaphor for a light-handed approach to conflict resolution,” de Christopher said in his proposal.

The sculpture will consist of three blocks of stone, collectively sitting on another large stone slab that will represent the water that surrounds Turners Falls.

The first stone will be set at the end of the planter near the intersection. The word “rock” will be on the top of the stone, carved and raised. The body of the stone will represent the bedrock that Turners Falls is built on, according to the artist’s proposal.

The artist will also carve depictions of the quarrying and excavation work done to create the power canal. The stone carvings will also represent the earliest Native American inhabitants of the region and the historic massacre in 1676 at the hands of the Capt. William Turner and his troops.

A second block of stone will be carved in the likeness of the 19th century paper mills, which were once thriving on the power canal. The word “paper” will be carved in raised letters on the top of this stone. One side will show a brick mill building and the other side will show, like the inside of a dollhouse, a view into the works of the mill and the production of paper.

A third stone block will be carved to look like a retail store on Avenue A. On this stone, the word “scissors” will be carved out, again in raised letters. The storefront will depict a window with general store items on display. This third stone represents daily life in Turners Falls, the artist’s wrote in his proposal.

“With the sculpture project, set right at the crossroads of downtown, we have a unique opportunity to create something of lasting value, something that speaks to the community and the public at large in a significant and meaningful way,” the artist said in his proposal.

The park, currently unnamed, was created in December of last year to help build a sense of community. It’s a space with benches for people to relax and socialize while visiting local businesses. The project will fit in with this already established community space, said LoManto.

The artist will provide all the materials for the project. An assistant will help the artist with the instillation and delivery not to exceed $20 per hour. Supplies and parts for the project will not exceed $1,000. Any money remaining from the project will go toward paying the artist.

The judges included the town planner, downtown business owners and artists, and three individuals from outside Franklin County.

The judges based their decision and rated the applicant on the artist’s creativity of approach, whether the project was a fit for the area, the form and content of the proposed project, the artist’s ability to complete the project, and safety and durability of the sculpture. De Christopher’s rated the highest, said LoManto.

“We really are quite lucky to have him,” said LoManto. “This needs to be something we can live with for a long time, something that will still be relevant 25 years from now. So it’s a big job, it’s a big responsibility.”

You can reach Lisa Spear at:

lspear@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 280


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