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May 14, 2007

SCULPTURE AT BUFFALO VALLEY WELCOME CENTER TO BE DEDICATED MAY 24


Knoxville Artist Preston Farabow Completes Magnificent Steel Sundial Sculpture

NASHVILLE - - Knoxville Artist Preston Farabow has completed and installed the latest work of art at Tennessee’s Welcome Centers. Located at the I-40 Smith County Welcome Center at Buffalo Valley, the stainless steel sundial titled “Marking Time” incorporates markers representing all 95 counties of the state. The piece will be officially dedicated on Thursday, May 24 at 2 p.m. (CST). The sculpture is a public art project created in partnership with First Lady Andrea Conte, the Tennessee Arts Commission, Tennessee Department of Transportation, and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

The sculpture extends 100 feet x 50 feet, and is approximately 12 feet in height at the tip of the main structure. Materials used by the artist include stainless steel, concrete, earth, and stone.

“The piece is an actual working sundial, and for me it’s a sort of meditation on how I make my mark in our world,” says Farabow. “It is about time, or more importantly, how I use my time. It is my attempt to identify an opportunity to pause, reflect, or simply watch time pass. The concept behind it was born out of my opportunity to stay home with our youngest son for his first year. The experience provided me with a sense of perspective. I learned where my values truly are, and what is really important to me. It also gave me a year to wade through the paperwork associated with a public art commission.”

Farabow is pleased with the location of the piece. “I couldn’t imagine this piece anywhere else. The opportunity and the exposure this site provides are overwhelming. I understand the Welcome Center at Buffalo Valley is the most visited center in the state, with three million visitors each year.”

The story of Preston Farabow’s sundial is full of unexpected twists and turns along the way. There was no direct route to completion. It all started back in 2004 when the Tennessee Arts Commission held a competition for an artist to create a piece of public art for the Tennessee Residence. The idea was to create a work of art from slate that had been removed from the roof of the Residence during renovation. 53 artists were identified by the Commission as showing interest in creating the sculpture. Preston Farabow was among those artists, and was selected as one of the finalists.

Although Farabow was not selected to create the public art at the Tennessee Residence, First Lady Andrea Conte loved the expanse and dynamics of the model that Farabow submitted.

“The First Lady was so impressed with Preston’s idea, that she expressed her desire to see it become a reality, and asked us if we could place it somewhere within the state,” says Rich Boyd, executive director of the Commission. “With 11 pieces of public art commissioned by the agency and installed at Tennessee Welcome Centers, it was only natural that Buffalo Valley was a perfect fit.”

Nicole Pietrantoni, director of the Commission’s Visual Arts, Craft and Media Program, is also pleased with the location. “This is a highly visible location, and the aesthetics of the area really compliment the piece,” she says. “I don’t think we could have found a more perfect place.”

Farabow credits the Commission in finding the location. “The Arts Commission worked especially hard to find an appropriate site for the piece, and I have to give them full credit,” he says. “The alignment of this particular sundial could have been ‘cheated’ to adjust for its location at the easternmost portion of the Central Time Zone, but I chose not to do this. This piece points ‘true’ North and the angle of the main structure is precisely 36.14 degrees to correspond to the degrees of latitude for the site. Sundials, it seem, are the perfect ‘site specific’ form of sculpture.”

With the installation of the sculpture complete, Farabow joins 11 other Tennessee artists who welcome visitors to Tennessee.

“The realization of this piece, over three years time, has been both challenging and fulfilling in ways I could have never imagined,” he says. “What an extraordinary opportunity it has been.”

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