Development Foundation plans for 40th anniversary of sculpture symposium

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Members of the Liberty Hill Development Foundation Board are, from left, Larry Nicholson, Debbie Evans, Gary Spivey, Marion Tully, Mark Witcher, Mary Lyn Jones, Angela Palmer, David Polser and Darwin Wiggers. (Shelly Wilkison Photo)

Members of the Liberty Hill Development Foundation Board are, from left, Larry Nicholson, Debbie Evans, Gary Spivey, Marion Tully, Mark Witcher, Mary Lyn Jones, Angela Palmer, David Polser and Darwin Wiggers. (Shelly Wilkison Photo)

By SHELLY WILKISON

The Liberty Hill Development Foundation Board on Tuesday supported a plan to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Liberty Hill International Sculpture Symposium, and authorized a grant writer to pursue possible sources of funding to help pay for the event and park amenities to permanently showcase the sculptures.

Liberty Hill Intermediate School art teacher Susan Barnes suggested the community come together to host another sculpture symposium similar to the one organized by the late Mel Fowler, which brought sculptors from various countries to Liberty Hill in 1976. Artists who participated 40 years ago donated their works to the community and those sculptures now stand on the campus of the Intermediate School.

The Development Foundation, which owns Lions Foundation Park, is looking to move some of those sculptures into the park. The Board is seeking the assistance of grant writer Valery Kedroff to obtain funds for the development of a sculpture park inside Foundation Park along with an art-centered museum and another museum that will tell the story of the community.

Kedroff said her fees will be paid from grant funds she secures, but her fee will be negotiated at a later date.

Barnes said she had organized a meeting for March 2 and invited some community and school district leaders, as well as Development Board member, in an attempt to encourage involvement in the new symposium tentatively scheduled for October-November.

“I want this to be a world-class event,” she said. “I have contacts to get artists here, but it will take funding.”

Foundation Board Member Gary Spivey said his goal for the event was to make it “a re-do” of the 1976 symposium. He said artists paid their own way to Liberty Hill and volunteers in the community provided room and board at no charge for almost two months. The materials for the sculptures were donated by area quarries, and the finished art pieces were donated to the community.

“But I foresee the 40th anniversary event limited on the amount of sculptures, then shoot for a bigger event on the 50th (anniversary),” he said, adding that school district administration was supportive of the idea.

“I see this as a community effort,” Spivey said. “From 1976 until now, nothing has brought people to Liberty Hill, other than the schools, like the sculpture garden.”

“I have people galore who are excited about this,” Barnes added. She had prepared a brochure entitled “Liberty Hill International Art & Sculpture Symposium 2016” that identified the purpose of the event.

“We will select skilled artists from around the world to come to Liberty Hill and they stay here for an extended length of time in order to create their works of art,” the brochure states. “If we also do a painting/ceramics symposium there will be guest artists to visit in their studio space and a big art show at the end of the event.”

Kendroff said she would continue to communicate with Barnes and Spivey about the fall event and begin looking for grants to fund the project.

The Development Board has also enlisted the help of a consultant who is designing the new sculpture park, which will utilize a portion of the park land adjacent to the sculptures on the school campus. Board members have said they would also like to see an art-centered museum that includes space for artists to work on projects as well as teaching space.

Nicholson said Tuesday that a second museum focused on preserving the history of the Liberty Hill community is still on the wish list as part of a public library expansion, but the focus now is on development of the sculpture park.

In other business Tuesday, the Board approved a request from the local Girl Scout troop to hold a Color Run in the park on Sept. 10.

Event organizer Julie Clark said the fourth grade scouts intended to use the run to raise funds to provide clean drinking water in areas that don’t have it. She did not offer specific details on the locations that would benefit from the fundraiser.

The Board also approved the use of the park for the annual Community Easter Egg Hunt, hosted by Mission Liberty Hill Lutheran Church.

In addition to the egg hunt, which will be from 10 a.m. to 12 Noon March 26, the Lions Club will hold its annual Thrill of the Hill 5K Run in the park prior to the egg hunt. In the past, the run has been held at Durham Park.

“We are working with Mission Lutheran to try to bring more attention to the sculpture garden, make it (the run) more of a community event and hopefully get more participation in the run,” said Lions Club member Rusty Bristow.

The run will begin at 8 a.m. in the sculpture garden at Liberty Hill Intermediate School, loop around the walking trail at Lions Foundation Park, back to Liberty Hill Junior High and finish in the park. Clay Cole from Mission Liberty Hill said the church started the Easter Egg Hunt five years ago and is open to involving more organizations in the event.

“This could become a community festival,” Cole said. “We have good participation and want other organizations to become involved.”

Cole estimated that 600-700 children and their families participated last year.

In addition to the egg hunt, other activities for children are available including a petting zoo, a train ride, bounce houses and costumed bunnies that make their way through the park for photographs. This year, musical entertainment will also be part of the event.

Cole said the event also serves as a major food drive for Operation Liberty Hill.

“It looks like this is all about giving, and no one is getting anything (profit) out of it,” said Nicholson.

The Foundation has been in talks with Liberty Hill city officials for more than a year about a possible transfer of ownership of the park to the City. The City has been paying for maintenance at the private park for several years.

At the Foundation’s request, funds from the City Economic Development Corp. were used to pay for a professional appraisal of the sculptures for the purpose of securing insurance coverage prior to their possible relocation into the park.

About $100,000 is included in the current city budget for costs associated with the sculpture park. In February, the Board agreed that talks should slow down until final plans for sculpture park development are in place. Nicholson told The Independent Tuesday that there is still no time frame for a possible transfer of ownership.

Liberty Hill City Manager Greg Boatright attended Tuesday’s meeting, but did not speak and the topic was not on the agenda.

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