This past May, the Downtown Garner Association put out a call to local artists, asking them to participate in a public art installation. The artists' collective work is now Garner Art Around Town, the first of what the association hopes will be an annual event. The 23 canvases are being displayed on Main Street, Garner Road, and at Lake Benson and White Deer Parks.
The idea for the project originally came from Lorie Clark, the Cultural Arts and Events Manager for the Garner Performing Arts Center. She, along with the Downtown Garner Association, took it on as a way to not only exhibit public art, but to support artists financially. "We undertook the project because we wanted to support artists during the pandemic," says Mari Howe, Downtown Development Manager. "It opens the opportunity up to anyone who wanted to express themselves and be a part of the exhibit."
In order to help with costs, the majority were given a stipend to pay for supplies. The artwork will be auctioned off when the exhibit closes in November, and 75% of the proceeds will go to the artists. The rest will help the city recoup costs and put on the display again next year.
The artists were given free reign to paint what they wanted, as long as it was family friendly. Many of the artists chose to include elements of the city of Garner in their paintings, such as the historic caboose on Main Street. Paintings with landmarks are displayed near the locations that inspired them.
One artist, Adriana Ameigh, decided to get the community involved for one of the displays. She sectioned a canvas into many smaller pieces and invited the public to fill in the boxes. The resulting artwork is displayed at Lake Benson Park.
Taylor Harrington is a local artist who is also participating in the exhibit. She recently decided to pursue art full time, and mainly works with chalk. She took her inspiration for the Art Around Town project from Main Street in Garner, which has been undergoing revitalization in recent years. "I've always enjoyed the strip of main street, the historic buildings, and of course the water tower," she says. "I decided I wanted to focus on those notable features for my piece." You can see more of Taylor's work on her Instagram account, Chalk By Taylor.
A walking tour of Garner Art Around Town is available on the Downtown Garner website. 18 of the works are displayed downtown, while the other five are at White Deer Park and Lake Benson Park, on Aversboro Road. For a full list of artists, and descriptions of their displayed pieces, visit the "Arts" section of the Downtown Garner website.