HALLOWELL — More than $10,000 has been raised in efforts to give two sculptures from Hallowell’s recent Granite Symposium a permanent home at Granite City Park.

The Hallowell Granite Symposium ran for 10 days in late September at Stevens Commons, and gave the public a glimpse at the creative process as six sculptors created unique works from blocks of granite.

The event drew roughly 150 daily visitors on average as artists employed techniques ranging from chiseling, sawing, sanding and polishing, all while fielding questions and demonstrating techniques to the public.

As the event came to a conclusion, people voted on their favorite pieces. Artist Isabel Kelley received first place with the sculpture “Bloom,” and Mark Herrington took second place with the piece “Flowing Through.”

Kelley, after receiving a bachelor’s in fine arts in sculpture with a minor in art history from the Maine College of Art in 2013, has shown sculptural work throughout New England. Herrington is a self-taught artist who describes his work as being a product of “aesthetic rigor with a passion for minimalism.”

“Bloom” and “Flowing Through” were also selected for purchase by the Hallowell Arts and Cultural Committee. Vision Hallowell, an all-volunteer nonprofit formed in 2019 with the goal of supporting and promoting the city’s historic downtown, is leading the fundraising effort.

Their goal is to raise $20,000, which includes the costs of purchasing the sculptures, installing the art and permanent signage.

By Oct. 15, the group was 40% of the way to meeting this goal, thanks to generous donations from the Granite Symposium organizing committee and volunteers, and the Kennebec Savings Bank. Five days later, they’re roughly 60% of the way to meeting this goal.

Anyone interested in donating can do so by clicking the donate link on the Hallowell Granite Symposium website, or by mailing a check payable to “Vision Hallowell” to Vision Hallowell, P.O. Box 43, Hallowell, ME 04736. All donations are tax-deductible in accordance with current tax law.

Hallowell Arts & Cultural Committee Chairperson Deb Fahy said they voted to place the sculptures at Granite City Park, which will coincide with broader plans for the location.

The Arts and Cultural Committee, the Hallowell Conservation Commission, Tree Board, and Vision Hallowell recently began meeting to discuss future plans for the park. Their plans include plantings, creating a path, specific placement of the sculptures, and also setting up a process to allow people to donate items to the park such as a bench or additional sculptures. The process would ensure everything is done in an environmentally sensitive manner, as the park is adjacent to the Kennebec River.

Ideally, they are hoping to have the two sculptures moved to the park by the end of the year, or early in the spring of 2022. Until then, they will remain at Stevens Commons. Once relocated, an unveiling ceremony will be held.

“It’s difficult to move a finished sculpture and prepare the place for it,” Fahy said, adding that Kelley’s piece, for example, will require poured concrete.

They will also need to ensure that the pieces are above the river’s regular floodplain.

Looking ahead, Fahy said plans are already underway to hold another Granite Symposium in 2024.

“It will be similar to (this year’s Granite Symposium), and build on some of the things we learned,” she said. “For the most part, this year’s event went remarkably well. There is a possibility of connecting with (the University of Maine at Augusta) and holding it on the UMA campus. Apparently, there’s a bunch of granite there, and we’d have to set that up through the administration, but we have plenty of time.”

If the event is held on the campus, Fahy said it would still be called the “Hallowell Granite Symposium.”

Another long-term goal is to one day create a sculpture walk from UMA to Gardiner. The walk would be similar to the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium’s Maine Sculpture Trail, located in the Down East part of the state.

“UMA has a great sculpture collection and Gardiner has terrific sculptures downtown,” she said. We think it would be a great cultural tourism feature.”

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