Greenville, N.C. artist's sculpture chosen for Hilton Head's public art collection

Winning sculpture evokes family, marsh tacky heritage

tbarton@islandpacket.comNovember 10, 2011 

A family of horses sculpted from repurposed steel will join the bronze statue of Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser as the latest addition to Hilton Head Island's growing public art collection.

Greenville, N.C., artist Jonathan Bowling's "Family" was chosen by a jury for purchase and installation at one of three sites approved earlier by the town for public art. The outdoor sculpture was chosen from among 20 pieces by local, regional and national artists on display at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn as part of the town's inaugural Public Art Exhibition.

Presented by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, the exhibition runs through the end of December.

"It's a great honor and, quite frankly, a bit of a surprise," said Bowling, who grew up on a small farm in Kentucky, where the Appalachian Mountains melt into the rolling hills of the Bluegrass. "I've been around horses my whole life."

Though not his intent, the jury felt the piece honors Hilton Head's past, when marsh tackies -- the Lowcountry breed native to the Sea Islands -- one roamed, and embraces the island's natural beauty.

"This is an exciting addition to the community that furthers the island's rich history and cultural influences," Mark Baker, chairman of the public art committee, said.

The $20,000 sculpture purchased by the foundation will be donated to the town and installed early next year in a meadow overlooking Broad Creek, off William Hilton Parkway, near Shelter Cove Community Park.

The foundation's Public Art Exhibition Committee also announced Thursday three people's-choice winners selected through online and paper ballots. More than 2,000 votes were cast, Baker said.

First-place winner was Hilton Head artist Kevin Eichner's "Modus Vivendi," made of steel that twists from a foundation of rigid I-beams.

Second-place winner was Wilmington, N.C., artist Mark Krucke's "Fortitude."

Third place went to Michigan artist John Merigian's "An Intimate Stroll."

Each received an cash award sponsored by Atlanta law firm Alston and Bird -- $3,500 for first, $2,500 for second and $1,500 for third.

The foundation created a fund in 2006 to buy and place art in public spaces, beginning with the bronze statue of Fraser at Compass Rose Park along Pope Avenue. Organizers hope to turn the exhibition into a bi-annual event, gradually adding pieces in what some hope will lead to a sculpture garden.

The goal is to attract more visitors to the island, raise awareness of the arts and enhance residents' quality of life, said Denise Spencer, president and CEO of the community foundation.

"Not only do the arts provide a much-needed social escape and creative outlet for many in our community, they also help drive local economies and enrich educational landscapes," Spencer said.

Most of the pieces are available for sale from $3,500 to $53,000. Proceeds will be used to pay for future exhibitions, Baker said.

"There are several that, in my mind, should find a permanent place in our community," he said.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at

Related Content

  1. Hilton Head Island Public Art Exhibition
  2. Artists erect sculptures on Hilton Head: Sept. 22, 2011

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