Augusta Art Adventure with Pax Bobrow
Today was a beautiful day, of crisp air, bright sun, and an undercurrent of energy that made us want to get out and do something. So, our family masked up and went downtown this afternoon for a tour of the Augusta Sculpture Trail and other amazing public art.
We started at the murals that Westobou commissioned on 11th Street, just off of Broad, and that bright sun really made them sparkle, one of them quite literally with its gold paint elements bursting out in segmented rays. We were joined by a couple walking their dog who also stopped to admire, clearly drawn to the gorgeous mural of an Elder and ravens with full moon. My youngest particularly loved the flowers and berries in the Growing in the Garden City mural.
We then walked to visit Unstoppable in the center of Broad, and my youngest totally loved its bright, bold presence, while my husband remarked that it was an amazing entrance to Downtown Augusta. Crossing over, we said hi to Leonard’s Orange Hearts robots, and walked past literal crowds of patrons at the outdoor seating at Whiskey Bar to play Rhian’s painted piano in front of Augusta & Company. At 10th Street, we crossed to the center to visit Impractical Hardware, which my eldest said he really loved because it is so funny.
As we walked down Broad, we could see young people in twos, and families doing exactly what we were doing, some with very fancy cameras strapped around their necks.
Our next stop was the Spirit of Funk mural, where there was an unending stream of families stopping to take selfies at their favorite James Brown highlight in the mural. Laziza’s was hopping next door, and lo and behold our old friend Rachel was having a late lunch with a friend at one of their outdoor tables. It felt 85% like normal life in that moment, only minus the running hug we would have given each other under a non-pandemic state of life. She told me they were going to go visit all the sculptures after they ate.
Past that glorious mural, we headed to the Augusta Common, where I was able to tell my kids the story of Jenn Garrett’s homage to her Mom and sister’s struggles with breast cancer in Invasive. My youngest wanted to know if her family survived, and I told him that I did not ask. My eldest was super excited about the cut-out shapes that represented cell structures in the flower petals, and on the way down the Common, he explained as best he could about a new discovery about cells having both 5-sided and 6-sided structures, allowing them to interlock in complex curves. Thank you Jenn Garrett.
Gregory Johnson’s Duet was already being photographed by two ladies touring the trail as we approached, so we kept our social distance, as I told the kids how Gregory was inspired to make this piece by two swans, Claire and La Lune, who lived in a pond near his house. My youngest said that he at first thought it was a sailboat. I explained that one of the joys of truly great abstract art is that the forms that the artist creates represent the underlying shapes of things that exist in perfect harmony with the laws of physics, like the bodies of swans, or the flicker of flames, or a perfectly designed sailboat. And so, when we see great abstract art, we can see many different things in it, because those underlying forms are shared across all of existence. My eldest particularly liked that one, giving me a “Cool” and a nod.
Of course, Popsicles made everyone smile. My youngest asked if this one was the sculpture everyone liked, and I said, yes. Because what is not to like about something so bright and whimsical, and just slightly mad like 12 foot tall, concrete popsicles?
We next moseyed down to the 8th Street Plaza and the Riverwalk to see Leonard Ursachi’s What a Wonderful World. My youngest shouted out, “Wait! Is that South America?” and just had to walk all the way around to see the rest of this nest-globe. He loudly proclaimed, “There’s Antarctica!” as he pointed to the base, and then walked up to look in the mirror. We were one of several families walking around, enjoying the public art, the beautiful day, and the feeling of an energized downtown. My husband noted that Stepped Tower was perfect in its spot, and then my youngest suddenly said, “I miss the Saturday Market”. We all agreed.
Of course, somehow on the way from the Riverwalk back to Broad Street, my youngest had to talk football, but we love him just the same. I did not say a word to announce that we were getting close to the next sculpture, when suddenly there it was, Maestro and Forever Young. Talk of football abruptly ended and my eldest proclaimed that this was his favorite so far, and that it was “really cool”. Frankly, I must agree. As we walked all the way around to see the two parts of this piece from all angles, we spotted Orion across the street.
Of course, my kids wanted to know, “Why is it called Orion?” I told them about how the artist David Sheldon is inspired by the movements of planets and moons and stars, and the human instruments created to observe and travel to them. My eldest chose a particular view and said, “You should see it from here, because the shadows are really interesting from this angle”, which was AWESOME, because I knew from the artist that the changing movement of the shadows that the piece creates is in fact central to how he created it. So, yeah. That was cool.
Walking up the center of the sunken parking area toward James Brown’s statue, we could see two ladies who were clearly old enough to have seen James Brown getting’ down in person. They were taking turns photographing each other in front of Mr. Brown, lowering masks to smile. A young couple with two small kids, one still young enough to get rolled around in a stroller, walked up and took selfies with him next. They had clearly just come from the Common, and were touring the public art of our city too.
Crossing back to the Common, my youngest was looking for the last sculpture, saying, “Is it hiding in the brush?” and then suddenly Sun Lion popped into view, and he said, “Oh wow! That’s cool!” My eldest proclaimed that it was definitely one of his favorites out of all, and when I told them about how D’jean Jawrunner had designed the piece by incorporating an old busted tire that she had found on the side of the road, they immediately saw it, and loved the piece even more.
After that, we headed back to Laziza, where I headed in to place a to go order, and the boys walked over to The Book Tavern to order a new sci-fi book I’ve wanted and to pick up Humble Pi, a book about Math gone wrong in the real world that my eldest had ordered some weeks ago. As I placed our order at the counter in Laziza, I asked the lady there if she liked the James Brown mural, and she enthusiastically said “Yes! I love looking at it, instead of just a building, while I work. And I know it’s brought us business too, because people go to see the mural and then they turn around and see our umbrellas and tables outside, and come over to read the menu, and end up coming in. I know, because they tell me.”
The day ended with a Lebanese food feast at home, and my eldest with his nose stuck inside a book.
All in all, today was a beautiful day.