Making art with an Earth-friendly attitude

From the 2009 Eco-Sculpture exhibit, Zac Benson’s work “Random Precision” overlooks Pistol Creek Station and the Blount County Library.

From the 2009 Eco-Sculpture exhibit, Zac Benson’s work “Random Precision” overlooks Pistol Creek Station and the Blount County Library.

It has been said that one man’s trash is another’s treasure.

For the second annual Juried Outdoor Eco-Sculpture Exhibition and Competition, Leanne Moe is hoping local artists will turn some of that trash into sculpted works of art.

Moe, a Maryville Arts Coalition board member, is helping organize the second annual competition. The results will be announced during April’s Last Friday Art Walk.

The competition began in 2009 and is held in conjunction with Earth Day as a way to not only celebrate recycling but also showcase area artists. Artists must use recycled and earth-friendly materials to create works of art. As it was in the first competition, the sculptures are to be displayed along the Greenbelt.

“We’ve got a great Greenbelt park that runs through the center of town, and it is a great place for public art,” said Moe. “It is great to bring people in from outside the area to see what we have here.”

Moe said MAC is continuing to encourage artists to submit entries and businesses to sponsor the event.

“Boyd Thomas Clothing is a great sponsor for the arts. We also have Kizer Black attorneys sponsoring us and Spectra Recycling,” she said.

Moe said the first year the competition was held in 2009, they created the event from scratch.

“Last year we weren’t sure we could get this off the ground. Year One came through with an adrenaline rush. This year we are a little more organized and are working hand-in-hand with the city,” Moe said. “We want to build it into a bigger cultural event that will bring in regional and national artists.”

Moe said the competition will offer $2,000 for Best of Show Purchase Award, $750 for second place and $500 for third place. The competition will challenge artists to make something out of earth-friendly or recycled materials. The artists also must respect the property of the park. The work should enhance the park, Moe said.

“This is an eco-event where we’re asking artists to utilize recycled materials or materials that are earth-friendly,” she said. “At the same time, we don’t want to tramp on grass or flowers. It is a beautiful park. This is something where we tie-in earth-friendly work that ties into the park area without hurting it.”

During the 2009 competition, artist Jacob Stanley, who won the event, incorporated a weeping willow along the Greenbelt into his sculpture. He worked with a professional to ensure he had the right system to tie his artwork into the tree along the lake in Greenbelt Park. “He spoke with an arborist to be sure he had the right system to tie into a tree to make sure he wasn’t putting permanent damage to tree,” Moe said.

The two individuals choosing the winners for this year’s event have backgrounds in the arts and in environment. Bauvais Lyons and Jason Scott will be jurors for the 2010 competition.

“Bauvais runs the Print Department at the University of Tennessee, one of top print departments in the nation. His works are wonderful, and he is very respected with in the art community. He has had work displayed at the Smithsonian Institute and the Whitney and Philadelphia museums of art,” Moe said. “Jason Scott runs the storm water system in Farragut. He has a fine arts background and is strong in the environmental aspects and he is also organizing a juried water sculpture event at Ijams Nature Center.”

Moe said planners want to eventually work with schools in the community to promote art in an earth-friendly way. “We’re hoping the event grows each year, and we’re hoping for more public awareness with more people coming out and enjoying the event,” she said.

Artists who want to be a part of the eco-sculpture event should submit an application with a drawing of what the sculpture will be by Saturday, April 24. The pieces will be due the following week. For more information, to submit an entry or become a sponsor, contact Moe at or visit

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