WILMINGTON — A public art project spanning several years is nearing completion and turning heads.
“Payne Junker Studio came to town today for the install of a big chunk of the rest of the Beaver Street Art Project,” downtown organization Wilmington Works wrote on Facebook on Saturday. “A long, tiring but exhilarating day!”
Wilmington Works received a grant in 2018, prompting a call for artists to submit proposals. The funding also covered the clearing of the wall by the Richards Group on Beaver Street.
Payne Junker Studio of Chester got involved after being selected to erect sculptures for the wall following a community vote in 2020. A second grant ensured the project could be completed and installation began last year.
The sculpture is designed to highlight many facets of the community, from mountains and wildlife to hikers and kayakers. It will be the Junkers’ biggest outdoor commission and is estimated to cost about $60,000.
Elise Junker said friends and volunteers came Saturday to help with the effort. On Sunday, Elise and Payne were working with Wilmington Works Program Coordinator Meg Staloff and Fred Houston of Wilmington.
“Thanks so much to all the Wilmington Works volunteers who came down for a bit or longer,” Wilmington Works said on Facebook. “Thanks to all who have helped make this project happen.”
The next and final panel to go up later this month includes pieces depicting historic downtown buildings. They’ll join pieces showing scenes from nature, a train, logging and sugaring.
“It’s been a relief to get it out of shop,” Elise Junker said of the art, which stretched the limits of the artists’ space. “It’s filled up our entire shop.”
Elise Junker noted the project is taking longer to accomplish due to obstacles such as COVID-19 and supply shortages. She said the price of steel “skyrocketed” during the pandemic.
“I’m very happy with it,” she said of the project. “And I’m very happy it seems people are enjoying it.”
Payne said it’s “great” to have people come by and comment as he installs the pieces. Once all the parts rust, Staloff said, the artwork will be more accentuated.
Wilmington Works is planning to raffle some of the prototypes cut as part of the planning process for the project. A grand opening party from 4 to 6 p.m. June 18 will include music, activities and baked goods.
Staloff said she’s inviting groups based out of the nearby Old School Community Center to participate in the event.