Public art program continues to grow

A nine-foot sculpture, titled “Flying High,” has been donated to Radford’s public art program and is now installed at the Memorial Bridge entrance to the City.

The piece consists of five colorful bikes and, according to sculptor Tom Wilkerson, “embraces the ageless excitement of epic journeys through bicycling.” Wilkerson goes on to say that “whether it’s a small child’s first trip around the block, an adult’s several day trek along Bicycle Route 76, or anywhere in-between, the anticipation, energy expense, movement and wind in the face feeling, create memories for a lifetime.”

Wilkerson retired as an associate vice president from Virginia Tech in 2010 and is well known in the region not only for his art installations but also for photography and abstract impressionist paintings. Several of his “door” works also are displayed on the grounds of Glencoe Mansion.

‘We were so excited to receive this gift from Tom and wanted to find an appropriate location close to Route 76,” says Deborah Cooney, Radford City Tourism director. “It’s especially fitting for us as we host Bike Virginia’s 31st tour this summer.” The “Ride the River” tour, which is scheduled June 22-27, also includes Claytor Lake as a host.

Radford City began its public art program two years ago with the installation of the bronze sculpture depicting colonial heroine Mary Draper Ingles in the Cultural Heritage Park named for her. From there, Cooney says, things just took off.

“We sponsored a juried exhibition, and it drew 18 submissions from five states. We couldn’t have asked for a better first time,” she added.

The exhibition, Cooney said, was made possible in part with a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts and represents a joint venture between the Radford Heritage Foundation and the Tourism Advisory Commission.

In addition to the Ingles’ statue by Matt Langford, three sculptures are on view by artists Charlie Brouwer, Dorothy Gillespie and Bob Doster. The park, located at 601 Unruh Dr., is open dawn to dusk seven days a week.