Public Art Exhibition already drawing crowds, will remain up for Concours

gmartin@islandpacket.comOctober 19, 2011 

A statue of Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser strolling beside an alligator was unveiled at Compass Rose Park by Town of Hilton Head Island officials in April 2010.

Twenty new sculptures have followed the pair's footsteps this fall, part of the inaugural Public Art Exhibition on the grounds of the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn.

It hasn't taken long for the exhibit, which began about three weeks ago and will continue through the end of the year, to become a local attraction.

"Attendance is a little higher than even we expected," said Robin Swift, museum vice president of marketing and development.

So far, more than 2,500 have stopped by, an average of over 100 per day. Swift says that figure could rise sharply in the coming weeks as more groups -- from private organizations to school field trips -- make planned visits.

The exhibition will gain even more exposure through its partnership with the Concours d'Elegance festival Nov. 4-6 at Honey Horn.

The Fraser statue and the current exhibition were made possible by the Public Art Fund, established by the nonprofit Community Foundation of the Lowcountry in 2006.

About two years of planning and $30,000 in town accommodations-tax revenue went into developing the public-art program, according to Carolyn Torgersen, foundation vice president of marketing and communication.

Torgersen said the Honey Horn exhibit has been "definitely successful" and hopes it will take place every two years.

This year, visitors can take a free self-guided walk or pay $10 for a guided tour of the artwork. The sculptures are positioned along a trail stretching nearly a mile, beginning on the grounds of the Discovery House and winding through woods and a butterfly enclosure.

Most of the pieces are for sale, with a portion of the proceeds to be used to fund future exhibitions.

At the exhibition's conclusion, one piece will be selected to keep Fraser and his alligator company, as part of the town's permanent public art collection.

Follow reporter Grant Martin at twitter.com/LowCoBiz.

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