'Take The Stage' with new statue in Bristol

'Take The Stage' with new statue in Bristol

BRISTOL, Va. - The celebration of Bristol's musical heritage has begun with the unveiling of Art In Public Places interactive sculpture, "Take The Stage." The year-long process from idea to reality now sits in Cumberland Square Park downtown.

Like unwrapping a Christmas present, a permanent downtown Bristol sculpture was unveiled in Cumberland Square Park for the public to enjoy. Art In Public Places has taken their idea from drawings, photos, and clay to reality. 

The process began last year with the announcement of the commissioned work and it's purpose.

Just like the artist herself in the photo above, you're invited to step up and take the stage for a picture. Many did at the unveiling, and that's why it's here -- to come take a picture to remember a trip to Bristol and your chance to join in. 

Local artist Val Lyle was awarded the commission and began the process with research. "When I take a commission I do a tremendous amount of research, because I want it to be right. From the placement of the fingers, from the type of bow, from the details on the guitar strap," Lyle said.

For the viewer there a lot of things to see that are detailed into the sculpture, particularly surrounding Bristol. The guitar strap was designed and made by the late Jim Shelton from the Clinch Mountain Boys; even the guitar pick is vintage. "At each step along the line as I was putting on the clothing, as I was working with the instruments, as I was doing the hair, the boots, I said, 'What can I do?' Anything that I can incorporate locally into this piece to make it more a part of our community. This is our sculpture," Lyle says.

It was made possible by the Marcia and Marvin Gilliam, Jr. Foundation dedicated to the arts. In particular to Betty Jones Gilliam, a former teacher at the University of Virginia's College at Wise. "She had a true love for art and a love for teaching art to the many students she had going through the college. She spent a lot of time at the William King Museum," Son Marvin Gilliam said.

This is the first of three new sculptures planned by Art In Public Places for downtown Bristol. "We have another one coming in probably the third week of October that will be in front of the library," Candy Snodgrass with Art In Public Places says.

And a third for Bristol, Tennessee is coming later. 

Like the artist said, it's the community's artwork, so come and enjoy and 'take the stage.'

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