The 10th Decatur Sculpture Tour is being installed today, and what started with just eight sculptures in 2012 has come a long way.
This year's tour has 25 exhibits – both outdoors and in storefront windows. There are also 17 permanent sculptures around Decatur.
“Who would have ever dreamt 10 years ago that we would be able to say that we not only are still alive, but we're actually thriving with our outdoor gallery,” says Coni Mayer, executive director of the Adams County Community Foundation.
Mayer and Susan Roe, president of the North Adams Arts Council, are among committee members who have been with the sculpture tour since the beginning.
They say the tour wasn't welcomed with open arms by everyone at first. Some members of the City Council were wary, but then-Mayor John Schultz was encouraging.
Ten seasons later, Mayer and Roe say a lot has grown out of the tour, such as concerts on the Madison Street Plaza, the city's Germanfest, the DeKegger beer festival and funding for the Decatur Arts Commission.
And of course, the tour brings people to Decatur year after year to check out what is new on the tour.
Pieces range from realist to abstract in a variety of mediums, and Roe says every age group enjoys the art.
The tour has also become well known to professional artists across the country.
The 2021 tour, which runs through mid-April, features the work of 21 artists from nine states. Seven of the artists have been a part of the tour all 10 years: Greg Mendez and Curtis Rose of Decatur; Matt Miller, Ben Pierce and Nathan Pierce of Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Neil Wiffell of Fort Wayne; and Lawrence “Doc” A. Wiedman of Huntington.
“I'm amazed that so many artists from all over the United States are willing to bring their artwork here and leave it for the year,” Roe says. “I don't want to say there's not room for growth, but I'm happy where it's at and what we've achieved.”
Many of this year's sculptors will be in Decatur today as their works are installed and speaking tonight as the pieces are unveiled. Installation begins at 8 a.m. today.
Also on the schedule today is plein air painting through the morning and afternoon with paintings on sale from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Artist Loft Building, 118 N. 2nd St. Food vendors are open from 4 to 8 p.m. at the plaza with the wine tent opening at 5 p.m. on Madison Street. The mayor's welcome is at 6 p.m. on the courthouse square with the sculpture unveilings beginning there at 6:15.
There are also street musicians, a children's chalk walk and other activities. For a full schedule, go to DecaturSculptureTour.com.
For people who don't make it out today, self-tours are easy any time, Mayer says. An Otocast Audio Tour will be available for cellphones that includes recordings of artists talking about their pieces. A brochure will be out in several weeks with a map to each sculpture and artist statements about their work. The brochures will be available in boxes around Decatur, at the Adams County Community Foundation, 102 N. 2nd St., and the Adams Public Library, 128 S. 3rd St.
Ballots can also be picked up at those locations to vote for a People's Choice award.
Sculptures from previous tours can be seen at DecaturSculptureTour.com, and this year's works will be added to the website in the weeks ahead.