Riverfront art project aims to beautify city, but comes with hefty price tag

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The City of Richmond is moving forward with a new art installation along the Riverfront.

The City has hired a Colorado-based sculptor to do the work, but the cost of the projects is raising some concerns.

The final product would feature a series of eight, 17-foot tall rings rolling through the Riverfront, spanning from the Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge – which is now under construction – through Brown’s Island onto Manchester. Hired sculpture Joshua Wiener, who will call the design “The Path Untraveled,” says it will provide a visual pathway connecting civilization to nature.

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“All these paths are so fantastic around the James, they kind of take you to enchanted destinations, and so I really wanted the artwork to have that sense of movement, so a ring floating, rolling through the landscape,” Wiener explained.

Weiner, who has been sculpting for 22 years, has been behind some other major public art projects in Michigan, Arizona and Colorado.

“I think it will look really nice, it really puts some culture in our City,” noted Kevin Cortez as he walked around Brown’s Island.

ring38News shared the designs with Richmonders, and many liked what they saw. But not everyone likes the $200,000 price tag.

“I am a little concerned about it,” Jeff Aronowitz told 8News Reporter Kerri O’Brien.

Some like Aronowitz think the cash-strapped city struggling to repair schools and roads could use the money elsewhere.

“It is a pretty substantial cost for an installation,” Aronowitz added. “I need to learn a little more about it before I make a final decision.”

A 1997 City Ordinance requires any city budgeted capital project over $250,000 – like the bridge – include a 1% allocation for art.

Wiener believes art is an investment in our culture and potential.

“It is easy for people to say this is superfluous, but it is something that, when you look back historically, how you look at society and often you do it through art.”

The project still needs approval from the full Public Art Commission – they vote August 9th – as well as the Planning Commission, which votes August 15th.

To learn more about the riverfront plans there is a public meeting one week from today, August 3rd in City Council Chambers at 7 p.m.

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