‘Embrace’ installation helps mark 20 years for Hamilton as City of Sculpture

Almost 13 months after Hamilton’s Embrace sculpture was delivered to the newly reconfigured intersection of Main Street with Eaton and Millville avenues, a group gathered Wednesday evening to dedicate it. The gap between delivery and dedication was largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s an opportunity to get all the community partners together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the City of Sculpture,” said Jacob Stone-Welch, president of the City of Sculpture organization.

The 25-foot-tall, shiny steel takes on different appearances through the day and the year. For instance, on Wednesday morning, it lacked a little shine because it was covered with frost. But it really popped that night when the lights were on.

“That’s one of the beautiful things about sculptures,” Stone-Welch said. “They can be enjoyed in so many facets.”

When Arkansas artist Hunter Brown installed the large pieces of entwined metal on Oct. 7, 2020, he said one thing he considered most about the artwork was that it looks like it might tip over. Another thing he likes is it is different from whatever angle it is viewed from.

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The brushed-stainless-steel sculpture, which is the city’s second largest, behind only the one in front of the city government tower at 345 High St., will become even more visually interesting at night in coming weeks, after more lights are aimed at it.

“We are still finalizing the lighting install, and we are still waiting for more lights,” Stone-Welch said. The full-spectrum LED lights can create any color, and most of the time likely will be standard white.

“But we did debut the color ability of the system for Halloween, by turning the sculpture into like a purple, green and orange color scheme.” he said.

Perhaps blue or green, respectively, when Hamilton or Badin win state championships?

“I certainly hope so,” he said. “We’re going to start small and just stick to major holidays, but we’re hoping eventually we get to a point where the lighting of the sculpture is much more dynamic and responsive to high school games, Big Blue, Badin, those sorts of things.”

Rather than convening a large crowd on the landscaped area that was created after the intersection was altered to make its angles easier for drivers to see oncoming traffic in all directions, Thursday’s ceremony was a chance to get people and organizations that have donated to Embrace and other sculptures since Hamilton was declared a City of Sculpture in 2020.

A plaque names 26 individuals, couples and families who played a part in the 20 years of sculptures, as well as the Hamilton Community Foundation, Hamilton Garden Club and Hamilton Parks Conservancy.

Sculpture was three years in development

Embrace was three years in development, Stone-Welch said, beginning with the first board discussion about it in 2017; development of the project’s scope and reaching out to artists in 2018; with the start of the commission with Hunter Brown starting in 2019.

“It has been a great honor to have had the opportunity of creating an iconic artwork for The City of Sculpture’s 20th anniversary,” Brown said. “While visiting Hamilton we were able to see some of the city’s impressive art collection. All I can say is, ‘wow!’ For me, there is nothing more exciting than creating a monumental landmark for a city that has such great appreciation for the arts. It is my hope that both the residents and visitors of the City of Hamilton will enjoy Embrace for many years to come.”

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