When the area for the Mauldin Veterans Memorial was first landscaped in 2011, a walkway from the front to the back of the Cultural Center was developed. The sidewalk included nine circular concrete base extensions that could be used for displays.
After feedback from some veterans, plans changed. City Council decided the Memorial would be better served by having a more visible presence closer to the front facing East Butler Road. Now the memorial features the Veterans Walk, a pathway that starts behind the flags and goes to the front of the Cultural Center, with benches and plaques along the way honoring those U.S. military personnel who’ve served in wars.
The question then became of what to do with the concrete bases that have already been in place.
At the December City Council meeting, Cultural Center administrator George McLeer provided the answer.
The Mauldin Public Art Trail will allow for one piece of artwork to be added once a year until all nine spaces are filled. After all nine have been filled a one-year break will be observed before the oldest artwork is replaced.
“So every 10 years, you’d have a new slate of public artwork,” McLeer told council members. “Artwork that has expired after 10 years would be reused either at a public park, property, school or at another municipality.”
Council unanimously approved the plan.
Prior to the vote, councilman Taft Matney said he believes it will be a big step forward for Mauldin and the Cultural Center.
“A lot of us drive by there and still see the old Mauldin Elementary School,” Matney said. “I think we need to give reasons for it to be a cultural center.
“If we want people to come from other areas, enjoy the grounds and take advantage of the furnishings that Public Works has put out there, we need to give them something to look at.”
The trail should be a natural fit as the final concrete bases behind the Cultural Center line the perimeter of the outdoor amphitheater. The 1,000-seat venue has served as the center of community festivals and concerts.
Artists will be selected through an application process and will be open to those who reside in South Carolina for the duration of their project. The yearly budget will be $10,000, which covers a proposal fee, artists’ fees, travel, materials, installation and documentation.
While it will ultimately be the artists’ choice, McLeer said the artwork will primarily be sculpture based.
The selection panel will be made up of members of the Cultural Council, the non-profit arm of the Cultural Center, and the City of Mauldin.
“Each design will be based on a theme each year chosen by the Cultural Council, with input from city staff,” McLeer said. “So essentially what you end up with is a 10-year history of different themes that are important to our community, interpreted by South Carolina artists.
“There’s not many programs in the state that revolve like this. This gives us the flexibility to diversify our artwork each year.”
McLeer said the Cultural Council will use the South Carolina Arts Commission to help spread the word about the application process for the first display in January. He said the process from selection to completion and installation would take 10 to 12 months.
“The goal is that the artwork is ready each spring before our outdoor concert series starts up,” McLeer said. “So we should definitely see something by the spring of 2016.”