Committee chooses 3 possible sites to showcase public art on Hilton Head

Drivers along William Hilton Parkway on Hilton Head Island could have more to gaze at than scenic marshland, sailboats and wildlife.

Three sites along the parkway have been proposed for placement of public art next year in a project headed by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.

The foundation created a Public Art Fund in 2006 to buy and place art in public spaces, beginning with the bronze statue of Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser at Compass Rose Park along Pope Avenue. The goal of the fund is to attract more visitors to the island, raise awareness of the arts and enhance residents' quality of life, said foundation spokeswoman Carolyn Torgersen.

One piece of public art would be purchased next year, with more to be bought later.

The town Public Projects & Facilities Committee voted unanimously Aug. 3 to recommend that the Town Council approve placing artwork at the following locations:

The Town Council is expected to vote on the locations Sept. 7.

Despite the unanimous vote, committee members expressed concerns about the sites selected.

Councilman George Williams Jr. questioned why more popular sites, such as Shelter Cove Community Park or Coligny Circle, were not selected.

"The chamber building is two years away (from being built) and at Shelter Cove, you could plop down art tomorrow," Williams said.

Councilman John Safay questioned the selection of Jarvis Creek Park.

"Jarvis Creek Park is a beautiful site, but it's off the beaten path," he said. "It would be a shame to put a beautiful piece of art in a place not readily available for people to see."

Mark Baker, chairman of the public art committee, which is overseeing the art project, said the three sites were chosen from a list of nearly a dozen because of their visibility along the town's main travel corridor.

If approved, the list of sites would allow artists to incorporate characteristics of the sites into their designs, Torgersen said. Committee members would review submitted proposals from artists in February and select artists to display their work during the 2011 Public Art Exhibition scheduled for next fall. A jury would then select one piece of art to place at one of the three selected sites.

About $54,000 has been raised so far to place art at one of the three proposed locations, Torgersen said. She said the group expects to spend $50,000 to $100,000 to purchase the winning piece of artwork. About $20,000 will be spent to coordinate and plan the fall art exhibit, Torgersen said.

The Town Council earlier this summer also earmarked $75,000 to be paid to the Public Art Fund over two years.

"We are working on how the actual selection (of the art) will occur, but there will be opportunities for public input," Baker said.