The arts will be hopping this spring – all around Dedham. Modeled after nearly 300 successful public art projects around the country, the Dedham Public Art Project has been unveiled this month, which will result in 20 artist-painted fiberglass rabbit sculptures placed across town in high-visibility locations starting in spring 2012.
Each 5-foot-high rabbit will be painted by a juried selection of local artists – and each sponsored by local businesses, individuals and organizations. At the conclusion of the public display over several months, the completed sculptures will be auctioned off to support the proposed Mother Brook Arts & Community Center being considered as a new use for the current Avery Elementary School.
As part of the project launch, the first custom rabbit has been already sculpted, a mold created and the first fiberglass form is in production – scheduled for delivery to the Dedham Community Theatre lobby in mid-January. Award-winning artist Marietta Apollonio, who holds a BFA in Illustration from The Art Institute of Boston and is a co-founder of the Dedham Square Artist Guild, has been selected to paint the first rabbit. Her work painting the rabbit sculpture will be promoted during the month of February to raise attention and funds for the entire initiative, while other artists are selected and sponsors are being identified.
The project launch was made possible by the early generosity Dedham Cultural Council, Dedham Savings, Needham Bank, The Norfolk & Dedham Group, author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds and selectman Paul Reynolds. In partnership with several community and arts organizations, including Dedham Shines, Dedham Open Studios and Dedham Square Artist Guild.
The project has also received early support from the Town of Dedham’s Economic Development director Karen O’Connell and state Rep. Paul McMurtry, who also serves as Vice Chairman of the Commonwealth’s Committee on Tourism, Arts & Culture.
As a Dedham Public Art Project’s co-founder, McMurtry said, "Dedham is increasingly becoming known as a hotspot for arts and culture – our hope is that this project will turn heads in the Commonwealth and signal loud and clear that Dedham is a destination point for creativity and community."
To ensure success of this major effort, the Dedham Public Art Project has partnered with Cowpainters, a woman owned and operated studio in its 11th year of creating fiberglass forms for public art projects. To date, Cowpainters has helped produce over 300 public art projects across the U.S., and has become to the go-to partner for this kind of creative civic initiative.
These dazzling art-on-the-street projects that have blossomed all over the country have sparked a contagious vibrancy in downtown business districts and community gathering spots. The whimsical, amusing and unexpected sculptures benefit everyone: local businesses enjoy more foot traffic and goodwill from their sponsorship, artists gain exposure from having their artwork on display all over the city, beneficiaries obtain "new money" for their important programs, and local citizens and tourists delight in viewing the artwork.
The project is also designed to help Dedham attract more tourists from the nearly 18 million international and domestic annual visitors to Massachusetts.
One of the project's launch partners, Dedham Savings’ executive vice president Jerry Lavoie said, "Dedham Savings and its foundation strive to make a positive impact whereever we can - and this project certainly will make a difference as it increases the vibrancy of our community and continues to make Dedham a destination point in the Commonwealth."
The Dedham Public Art Project will feature a crouching rabbit - an iconic form found on the historic Dedham Pottery, which was produced in Dedham more than 100 years ago. Today, little more than a street sign marking "Pottery Lane" remains as a reminder of the Dedham Pottery production that once thrived here.
Project plans call to have one rabbit cast in bronze for a permanent installation – similar to the Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Boston Public Gardens. The statue will serve as a key photo opportunity attraction for "Destination Dedham," a promotional campaign being launched by the Town of Dedham to increase tourism and to support local business with more visitors.
Possible sites for the bronze statue include the newly revitalized Dedham Square, the new Mother Brook Arts & Community Center - or close to the site of the original Dedham Pottery Factory on Pottery Lane.
If all goes according to plan, that gift to the town will be unveiled in Dedham by fall 2012 – along with a gala auction slated for September where the sculptures will be auctioned off to raise money to support the launch and programs at Dedham’s new Mother Brook Arts & Community Center.
The Dedham Public Art Project is seeking artists interested in painting the rabbits (artists selected will receive a stipend to cover their time and materials), as well as individual and corporate sponsors to help defray the costs of the ambitious project.
For more information about joining the Project as a volunteer, artist or sponsor, check out the Dedham Public Art Project on Facebook or contact the Dedham Square Artist Guild at 781.329.1890 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.