"Bristol's Cultural Heritage" installed at Bristol Public Library

October 23, 2014

"Bristol's Cultural Heritage," a sculpture designed by local artist Charles Vess and created by Bristol sculptor Val Lyle, was installed today at Bristol Public Library in downtown Bristol. The sculpture weighs in at 7,500 pounds, and stretches 16 feet tall and 16 feet wide, forming a sort of gateway to the beloved downtown institution. The library site was specifically chosen because it is jointly owned by the cities of Bristol, TN and Bristol, VA, a fitting location for a piece of art that celebrates our region’s unique culture.

“Here at the library, we are honored AiPP chose our location as the home for this exceptional piece. Many people may not realize that the library was built as a vehicle for the arts. This sculpture will be the highest profile example yet, fulfilling one of our basic purposes as a public building,” said Jud Barry, Bristol Public Library director.

An $80,000 contribution from Eastman Credit Union (ECU) funded "Bristol's Cultural Heritage," which has been nearly two years in the making.

“It’s impressive,” said Candy Snodgrass, president of AiPP, “and we are thrilled that ECU has partnered with AiPP to bring life to a concept generated by one of our very own board members –Mary Jane Miller. The layers of the arch are sure to strike an emotional connection with anyone who nears its commanding presence."

Mary Jane Miller, a local interior designer and active AiPP board member, conceptualized the sculpture. She then worked with world renown, Abingdon illustrator, Charles Vess, to put her concept to paper and create preliminary sketches. In an effort to keep the project local, Vess recommended local sculptor, Val Lyle, who is coordinating the project with sculptor and fabricator, Jim Gallucci of Greensboro, NC.

“The arch will be constructed contemporarily because that’s what artists are doing these days, but I talked with local artists to come up with elements that we could present in a traditional manner. The statement made by this piece will be outstanding as it represents the many layers of our rich and unique culture with a physical presence sure to demand attention from passersby,” said Miller.