- Associated Press - Sunday, July 27, 2014

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - Huntington’s train collection will increase substantially next year thanks to a partnership among three local entities.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams announced July 18 that the City of Huntington is teaming up with the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital and the Cabell Huntington Hospital Auxiliary to launch a collaborative art initiative.

The initiative will incorporate artists from throughout the Tri-State region, who will put their own creative marks on 40 fiberglass train engine statues that will be put on display throughout the city next year.

The initiative is called All Aboard! Artisans 2015, and it has a set of goals that benefit multiple facets of Huntington, Williams said.

“It’s benefiting a wonderful cause in the Hoop’s Family Children’s Hospital,” Williams said. “Secondly, it’s helping us advance a priority of ours of bringing public art to the community. This is an art exhibit. Three, by virtue of this being an arts project, it will bring new individuals into the city.”

After they have been on display in the city, the trains will be sold in an auction to benefit the children’s hospital, Williams said.

The art committee for the project is headed up by Chairwoman Jennifer Anderson, who said the project will begin moving forward this fall.

The committee will open its detailed submission process in October. The committee will select the winning designs in December, and the artists will be notified in January, she said.

The artists whose designs aren’t selected for the exhibit will have their work featured in a show that will take place during the exhibit, Anderson said.

Anderson said she expected more than 80 artists to submit designs for the project.

The artists should receive the trains in March, and will have until May to implement their designs.

The trains are being purchased by the auxiliary, and will be put on display throughout the city on May 9, 2015. They will remain on display until the fall of 2015.

“I think train lovers from all over the region are going to be swarming to our city,” Anderson said. “I think it is going to bring in some commerce and new tourists with the riverboats that stop here and festivals we have. I’m hoping this will be a great thing for everyone.”

The exhibit also will be tied in with a walking tour of the city, and there will be a Geocache element involved, Anderson said.

The exact locations of the trains have not been determined, Williams said.

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