November 25, 2014

New Sculpture Takes Flight in Peace Center Lobby

November 25, 2014

Paul Hyde, 1:16 p.m. EST November 22, 2014

A sparkling new sculpture will soon take wing over the main entrance to the Peace Center.

Fittingly, the graceful 13-foot-tall figure by San Francisco-based artist Michael Gard is called "Taking Flight."

Glowing with about 1000 LED lights, the rotating sculpture will hang from the ceiling just inside the lobby and should be visible outside the Peace Center and on Main Street.

The addition of the figure with wings is part of the Peace Center's ongoing efforts to enhance Greenville's cornerstone performing arts venue with the visual arts.

"We want to continue to add texture and dimension to the Peace Center," said Peace Center president Megan Riegel. "It just makes a center for the arts more interesting."

Future plans involve adding public art to Graham Plaza in front of the Peace Center.

"Taking Flight" will be given a new name to be used while it remains at the Peace Center. Suggestions are being taken via social media, and the Peace Center's followers will vote on the winning name.

The person who submits the winning name will receive a $100 Peace Center gift card.

Gard's sculpture was created out of aluminum wire, painstakingly woven.

Each of Gard's works begin as a block of clay and a spool of wire. The clay is sculpted and the sculpture is reproduced in wax.

Gard then weaves wire and knots it, stitch by stitch, around the wax form. Finally, the wax is melted away, leaving a rigid figure, both light and strong.

"This was once about 1,800 pounds of wax and now it's 15 pounds of aluminum," Gard said, as he worked to put the finishing touches on "Taking Flight" last week at the Peace Center.

Gard created the lightweight sculpture in San Francisco over six months and was able to ship it to Greenville where he reassembled it.

The dancing figure of "Taking Flight" is something of a signature work for Gard who has used the motif for several works of art.

"For me, she represents our humanity and the uplifting of our emotions, hopes and dreams," Gard said.

Riegel became aware of Gard's work through a mutual friend, Greenville artist Llyn Strong.

Gard was born in London in 1971 and moved to the U.S. in 1994. He maintains a full-time sculpture studio in San Francisco, where he lives with his wife Andrea and sons Milo and Felix.

"Taking Flight" will remain in the Peace Center until sometime in 2015.

For the latest in local arts news and reviews, follow Paul Hyde on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.