- Associated Press - Sunday, September 27, 2015

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) - You might see them around town: a tractor, a racing bicyclist, a loving family and the city’s skyline.

Merging beauty with practicality, four “Artful Bike Racks” recently have been installed in Lynchburg’s downtown.

It’s the culmination of a project that began in 2014 when the James River Council for the Arts and Humanities sought design submissions for bike racks from the public.

Out of more than 30 submissions, the four winning designs were announced earlier this year. Their designers include Philip Gabathuler, Davey Hazelgrove, Matt Perkins and John Wilson.

The bright red bike racks can be found outside the Lynchburg Community Market; at the 10th Street entrance to City Hall; outside the Bank of the James building, located on the corner of Main and 9th streets; and the corner of 5th and Madison streets.

“Public art really enhances the quality of life of an entire community,” said JRCAH Board President Kim Soerensen said. “It supports economic growth and entices interest in the arts. It may be, for some, their first contact with the arts and may encourage them to be more interested in it.”

According to JRCAH board Vice President David Neumeyer, the idea for bike racks originated with Region 2000 Coordinator for RIDE Solutions Kelly Hitchcock, who was aware of bike rack projects in other cities. RIDE Solutions promotes alternative transportation.

The bike rack project was made possible through partnerships with RIDE Solutions and various city departments. The materials and manufacturing of one of the racks was provided by AREVA, while the remaining racks were fabricated by local artist Paul Clements, Soerensen said.

“I think they’re beautiful,” said Cameo Hoyle, former JRCAH executive director. “They did a stellar job.”

The arts council’s new focus is on the promotion of public art. JRCAH has been involved in earlier projects to include the LOVE sculpture on the Percival’s Island Trail and “Keys for the Hill City,” which involves highly decorated pianos placed throughout downtown.

Lynchburg Director of Economic Development Marjette Upshur said in a news release that public art “gives a city personality.”

“An arts-oriented, bike-friendly city creates a vibrant community with positive effects on business development and social and physical connectivity,” she said.

In a recent JRCAH project, disposable cameras were given to residents of Miriam’s House, a transitional-living facility for homeless women and their children. The photographs, which aim to provide a glimpse of the world through the eyes of the homeless, Soerensen said, will be dis-played at Riverviews Artspace in October. The photographs will be for sale and proceeds will go to Miriam’s House.

Originally from Germany, Soerensen said public art is important to supporting a thriving community, “and I don’t see any reason why we can’t do it here.”

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Information from: The News & Advance, https://www.newsadvance.com/


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