Eco-Sculpture brings new creations to Greenbelt Park

Sometimes bad things happen, and you still come out a winner.

When vandals damaged Jacob Stanley’s entry in the first Blount County Eco-Sculpture competition on April 20, the sculptures had already been judged and the winners decided. Artists and the public, however, didn’t know who the winners of the downtown event were, however.

At the time the vandalism happened, all Maryville Arts Coalition executive director Katie Gamble could say to Jacob was that she was sorry it happened.

What Gamble said she wanted to tell Stanley was that, while someone vandalized his work, a judge from the Tennessee Arts Coalition saw the sculpture on April 19 and had named him the winner of the competition.

Gamble said she had a tough time consoling Stanley and not letting on that his work actually won the contest. “It was so difficult knowing he had won and holding that secret,” she said.

The Eco-Sculpture competition coincided with the annual Earth Roundup community clean up effort and environmental celebration and Last Friday Art Walk. During the Eco-Sculpture Competition awards ceremony, held in the penthouse of the Davis Lofts on April 24, State Sen. Doug Overbey said it angered him that someone had vandalized Stanley’s work.

Stanley’s sculpture involved using string tied to the branches of a willow tree and anchoring the string and branches to weights in the water to create a design.

Someone managed to tangle up the strings and branches. Luckily, Julie Horn from the Tennessee Arts Commission had already come into town from Nashville and judged the work the previous day.

Stanley spoke of the artwork he created on the island near the Pistol Creek Station near the Blount County Public Library. “It was very painstaking,” he said of the process of tying strings to the willow branches.

Stanley said when he visited Maryville and saw the willow tree on Duck Island, he knew that was the place for his project. He entered the contest and took a week to complete his design. The artist, a graduate student at the University of Tennessee, said sculptor and Maryville resident LeAnn Moe called him with news someone had vandalized his entry in the Eco-Sculpture contest. “I didn’t think it was controversial enough to be vandalized. I was shocked someone had flipped the stones,” he said.

Stanley said he appreciates Maryville for supporting art. “The city really is embracing artists and that’s what I hope the message is that comes out of this,” he said.

Overbey shared his enthusiasm for art in Blount County. “I’ve come to appreciate the full gamut of art in our community,” he said. “It’s so important. I want to thank Maryville Arts Coalition and Katie Gamble for creating and spearheading this. We are delighted to have the first juried eco-sculpture event in our community.”

Four artists received award of merits. They each received $125 Jerry’s Artarama gift certificates. The four artists were Elaine O’Sullivan with GC Number 1, Jerry Moll with Tortoise and the Hare, Zophia Kneiss with Bud, Buford and Bernise, and Heather Couch with Surprising to Find Still.

Zach Benson won third place with Untitled, and he received $250. Bryan Wilkerson won second place with Recycling Reminder and got $500. Stanley received $1,500 for his first-place award.

After the event was over Gamble said she has high hopes for the Eco-sculpture event. “We hope to do it each year,” she said.

Gamble praised Stanley for his good attitude after vandals struck his work. “Jacob still didn’t have a negative thing to say about this community or the event,” she said.

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