By Dan Pool, Editor
As the old saying goes, Jasper, you’ve come a long way baby.
The business owners downtown have really stepped up to create a vibrant Main Street, stretching all the way from the Perrow Park greenspace to the wooden bridge. The town is thriving like never before.
There is still one ingredient missing, public art. No murals, no fountains, few marble works but yet the big Oglethorpe Monument on Main Street is a starting point. What a great start to highlight our marble heritage than the towering example already in downtown. There is also a great marble sculpture in front of the library. Unfortunately the library is off the beaten path.
Imagine if we could move the library sculpture back into town. We would have two good points of marble interest. It was once at the courthouse so it clearly can be moved.
Jasper needs public art – perhaps a plan based on our marble heritage.
Lest anyone think your newspaper editor has gone too high-falutin and is calling for an Arc de Triomphe to be erected here, let me explain.
Not just in big cities, but in towns smaller than Jasper you find solid public displays, murals or statues highlighting their history.
Displaying something that says who you are is what makes a house a home, same idea for towns.
In Athens, you find painted Bulldogs; in Blue Ridge you find trout art; in Dalton, the perfect example, are their peacock figures that tie back into carpet history (not enough room to explain but very interesting).
Way down south in Clinch County you find murals throughout their county seat of Homerville and that smaller county is using grants to commission “swamp sculptures” tying to their proximity to the Okefenokee.
You have Lanier County which is known as a Historic Mural Community with numerous murals. Ellijay has its fair share of murals.
We do have one mural at the corner opposite Walgreen but it could use sprucing up.
During the late 1990s, a former Ga. Marble stone carver from Finland who went by the one name Eino, set up shop in an unused city building rent-free in exchange for putting his artworks in public spaces until they were sold on the international art market.
While he is mostly remembered for the unsuccessful water park – a lot of things went wrong there with the installation when the artist left.
But maybe not remembered is that Eino contributed a large geometric marble sculpture, which set on the corner of Main and Hwy. 53; under the deal it remained there for many months.
Beauty in art is always in the eye of the public/beholder, some people didn’t like it. But it was a technically complicated work that showed pride in marble.
We would encourage city hall to take the lead. They have demolished the historic Perrow cabins and razed the North Main Street water park, leaving both areas empty.
If there are any grants out there and if there any marble carvers looking for patrons, we can surely do something. Or maybe our local marble companies have some stone or older works that can be dusted off and put on display? Surely as much marble as we mine here there is an opportunity.
Not to get too philosophical, but the arts can give definition to our community, set a nice tone for visitors and give locals something to take pride in.
If we want to be marble capital of Georgia, we need more marble on display.