Like an artist putting initials on a finished painting, the 200-pound arrow has gone up like a signature on the Greenwood landscape.
Sculptor Chuck von Schmidt created the gently curved piece as a play on his initials V and S. In its new home along the Polk Hill Trail, the bright red sculpture will undoubtedly draw the attention of pedestrians and passers-by.
“This is a beautiful setting, and I’m thrilled to have such great exposure,” he said. “This is really ideal. You have enough distance where the art doesn’t just pop up on you. You can see how many cars are coming by here, and a lot of people are going to get to enjoy this over the next two years.”
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Von Schmidt’s piece is the most recent addition to Art on the Trailway program. He and city workers spent hours Monday unveiling the sculpture, titled “Nomme de Terre,” and installing it on a small hill off of Smith Valley Road.
The piece becomes another landmark in Greenwood’s growing public art collection, which is estimated to be seen by more than 18,000 people every day.
“The art makes a statement about our community. We appreciate art, enjoy walking and driving by daily and having our kids interact with the sculptures,” said Barbara Dunn-Stear, a board member of the Greater Greenwood Arts Council. “I love seeing people taking their family photos and selfies.”
Von Schmidt is a sculptor whose work focuses on mortality, the human condition, and man’s place on earth and in the universe. He works in all kinds of mediums, from glass to paper to molten lava.
“I pick the medium to best express the idea,” he said. “I’m more idea-driven than anything else.”
His work has been shown in galleries throughout New York, and his work was part of the display at the Woodstock ’94 celebration in Saugerties, New York. He was able to present one of his pieces, “The Ideals of Aaron,” to Pope John Paul II during a ceremony in Vatican City in 2005.
“I have a lot of interests in the environment, the world we live in, man’s condition. As an artist, I comment on these different things,” he said.
The idea for “Nomme de Terre” was inspired by the work of Marcel Duchamp, a French painter and sculptor who would take everyday objects and elevate them to works of art, often by simply signing his name on them.
“There is an outdoor sculpture exhibit that I’m part of every year in Garrison, New York, on a farm. I wanted to do a landscape, so what I did was, by making my initials and putting them on the landscape, I made it my artwork,” von Schmidt said.
That same concept is in play in Greenwood.
“Nomme de Terre” is the second piece installed in this current round of Art on the Trailway.
Art on the Trailway has been in place since 2012. Every two years, new sculptures from regional and national artists are leased and installed along a stretch of trail along Smith Valley Road, just east of Craig Park.
The only permanent piece on the trail is “Strider II,” an imposing sculpture depicting a lean figure walking into the wind. Greenwood purchased the piece after it was included in the first round of the trailway program.
The idea for the art trail came from Rob Taggart, director of Greenwood Parks and Recreation. His goal was to find a way to spruce up a stretch of trail along Smith Valley Road. The trail was used by residents, but he saw a potential for even greater use: to expose the public to world-class art, while making the trail itself a destination.
Taggart worked with the Greater Greenwood Arts Council to come up with a plan to attract finished artwork from throughout the country to install in Greenwood.
Submitted sculptures are reviewed by a committee that looks at its durability outdoors, its relevance to the history and culture of the city and its size and scope.
“We choose them for how they’re going to look on the trail, the size of them. A lot of it is the appropriateness to Greenwood. There are a lot of things that we look at to make sure they are a good fit,” said Karen Wilkerson, president of the arts council.
A previous work, “Symbiosis” by artist Richard Herzog, was put up last week. Two more sculptures are coming later this month, though exact installation dates haven’t been determined yet, Taggart said.