- Associated Press - Saturday, September 30, 2017

VALDOSTA, Ga. (AP) - The second annual dumpster art project was held on Sept. 23 in the City Hall Annex parking lot.

The project was made possible through a collaborative effort between the City of Valdosta, Valdosta Main Street, the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts and the Public Arts Advisory Committee.

Artist and artist teams transformed four downtown dumpsters into public pieces of art.

The team painting Dumpster No. 1 were employees from Barnes Healthcare Services; “Charlie’s Angels,” was named after Charlie Barnes III, owner of Barnes Healthcare Services. The team was led by Karen Lewis, a fine arts graduate of Valdosta State University.

“It’s a visual of our history. A visual of what makes Valdosta. Most people know Valdosta as being Winnersville football town and that tradition is what most people associate it with. We wanted to bring something to life that celebrated everything, you can really look at this and tell what Valdosta is all about,” Lewis said.

The Barnes Health Services team captured the spirit of the Azalea City, including the Winnersville football tradition, Moody Air Force Base, historic downtown and the railroad system.

“One side celebrates Valdosta a city without limits and the last stop on I-75, and we’ve incorporated some azaleas in there,” Lewis said. “Valdosta is here because of the railroad industry so we have a side that represents the railroad. Basically our theme is a celebration of the city.”

Logan Lott, a Valdosta native, is a sophomore at Valdosta State University studying fine arts and is a Lowndes High School graduate. Lott painted Dumpster No. 2 which captures the beauty of people from all walks of life who come together to celebrate community and enjoy the Winnersville Classic football tradition.

“The Winnersville Classic game is something very special to me. I have lived in Valdosta all my life; it’s where community can come together and enjoy a Friday night.”

Lott said the game has become quite a spectacle the last few years but it is one of the biggest events for Valdosta. The sunset during the game is what she said inspired her and what has been her driving force for the project.

“It’s an honor to have my artwork showcased because I am a native. I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve always loved art. This is my first time being involved with the community and it is just very special,” Lott said.

Katherine Melcher of Alapaha in Berrien County, a landscape architect was painting Dumpster No. 3 which will feature a sunrise peeking through a forest of Longleaf Pines.

“I love being outside in nature and I go for a lot of bike rides on country roads around here,” Melcher said. “A lot of times I’m riding through just looking at the patterns of the trees and the sun rising. I just find it very beautiful.”

The Longleaf Pine is one of Valdosta’s only truly native trees, seen in certain places around the city such as Valdosta State University. They are slow growing, tall and strong crop trees that were replaced through the years with faster-growing trees that could produce and provide more shade and lumber.

A fourth dumpster is scheduled to be painted Sept. 25-29 by Lowndes Middle School’s art program, led by art educator Maysha Pate. Pate and her student artists will create a visual of Valdosta’s history that will feature agriculture and other local images. Dumpster No. 4 will be placed in the downtown area by the end of September, according to organizers.

The Valdosta Youth Council also participated transforming the dumpsters into pieces of public art for the downtown area.

“The council teaches these young people to learn more about their local government and how they can serve their community and it’s really great seeing them grow as leaders,” said Sementha Mathews, City of Valdosta public information officer.

Erin Kelly, freshman at Valdosta High School, said she has been on the youth council for three years. She is youth council president this year.

“I really enjoy this group and I’ve made lots of new friends. We have worked together very well. It is a great group. We have a lot of potential this year. I’m excited,” Kelly said.

Kelly said the Painting the Town event is special to her.

“When you look at these dumpsters you don’t think much about them but when these artists add work to them it brings a whole new meaning,” Kelly said.

The youth council started early in the morning by painting the dumpsters with a coat of primer so artists would have clean canvases.

“It’s really exciting to watch them go through the process of painting and then the final product,” Kelly said.

Paints and supplies were provided by Whitehead Industrial Company, also located in Downtown Valdosta. Water for the volunteers was donated by the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts.

“We are so fortunate because this project requires a lot of paint and it needed to be high quality so that it would last years and not flake off,” said Cheryl Oliver, executive director of the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts.

Oliver said a really good example of a painted dumpster is on the east end of the arts center parking lot painted by an elementary school like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

All dumpsters were steam cleaned by the Valdosta Public Works Department.

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Information from: The Valdosta Daily Times, https://valdostadailytimes.com/

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