A retired art teacher and Blairsville resident who was inspired by stories of people using their stimulus funds to give back to others set out on a quest to brighten up the Blairsville community with sculptures.
The recently placed wind sculpture in downtown Murphy Lot, along with the cattails erected by the bandstand, was the idea of ââJoy Fairbanks, who taught elementary art in the Blairsville-Saltsburg school district for 29 years. before retiring in 2002.
âI wanted to do something that would benefit the city, but also reflect on the many students I had in my art program,â Fairbanks said. âIt seemed appropriate to me that I give back to them and to the region where I made my living. “
Fairbanks graduated from IUP with a minor in sculpture and is “very interested in this art form,” she said.
She wants to share this love with her community.
âThere is something good about community art,â said Fairbanks.
The Wind Sculpture at the Murphy Lot is by Lyman Whitaker, an artist working in southern Utah. Fairbanks became familiar with his work on a trip and was impressed with its kinetics.
âI thought the kinetics would reflect the constant motion that Blairsville has maintained over the years,â Fairbanks said. “No matter how badly things have gone, there has always been a push here to make things better for the whole community.”
The second sculpture is a set of three cattails, by Jack Mayer, of New Alexandria.
âThese are so important because of the trail, the veterans area and the attention to the river area,â she said. âCattails are a cleaning agent and it speaks to our environment. It’s great to have a local sculptor involved. Jack’s work can be seen in many places in this region and in other states.
Fairbanks said part of his love for cattails is seeing “ordinary things turned into art.”
The wind sculpture was donated by Fairbanks, and the cattails were donated by her and her longtime friend Jon Herby, of Blairsville.
She hopes to add more sculptures in the future. For now, the focus is on Main Street, but it could spread to other areas of the city if it spreads. âI wanted to draw attention to the main street,â she said. âIt’s a bit of a community spirit.
Fairbanks, who remains active in the local art community, said she had seen what Indiana was doing with the murals and also wanted an “artistic legacy for Blairsville.”
Those who might be interested in getting involved can contact her at [email protected]
âWe’re going to have art classes every day,â she said.