A granite sculpture that has been in Viles Arboretum since 2013 will be officially unveiled in its new, temporary location in downtown Gardiner during Friday’s art walk.

The sculpture, by Maine artist Jesse Salisbury, was moved in May to the downtown park next to Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center as a continuation of an annual program that displays new artwork in the park from late spring through October. The program began in 2010 with a $10,000 grant from the Harry Faust Art Fund, which will fund the public sculpture display in downtown Gardiner for one more year, said Patrick Wright, executive director of Gardiner Main Street.

Salisbury, a Steuben-based sculptor, is scheduled to speak at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Circling the Square Fine Art Press. The art walk, featuring artwork in downtown shops and other buildings from more than two dozen artists, will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Wright said Gardiner Main Street is looking into other funding sources to continue the rotating public art program in the park.

“I think arts and culture is vitally important to the new downtown economy and creates interest and beauty in the downtown,” he said. “The fact that this one rotates through each year, I think it gives us opportunity to expose new artists to Gardiner and Gardiner visitors to new artists.”

Salisbury’s piece “Motion” will return to the Viles Arboretum in Augusta after Gardiner’s “Art in the Park” exhibit ends in October.

Last year, wooden sculptures by Anne Alexander were displayed in the park.

Mark DesMeules, executive director of the Viles Arboretum, said the partnership with Gardiner is part of the organization’s effort to “make the Viles Arboretum less of an unknown secret in Maine.”

The organization that manages the 224-acre public park on Hospital Street in Augusta is also hosting a sculpture symposium Sept. 26-Oct. 3 where 13 artists will work every day to create stone sculptures, DesMeules said. The event is free and open to the public, he said.

Friday’s art walk will be the first downtown Gardiner event since a fire heavily damaged a couple of buildings more than two weeks ago. The July 16 fire started in the building next to Gerard’s Pizza and spread to other buildings, displacing around a dozen residents and a tattoo studio that had opened two weeks before. The owner of the pizza shop, which had its building damaged by smoke and water, said last week that he’s in the process of reopening but didn’t have a timetable.

Besides Gerard’s Pizza and Touch of Gray Tattoo, which moved temporarily back to its old location in Farmingdale, all other downtown businesses remained open after the fire.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @pdkoenig


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