EASTHAMPTON — What would volunteerism look like if it was depicted in the city? One artist will have the opportunity to present their perspective publicly.
Easthampton City Arts and the Public Art Subcommittee is seeking proposals for its newest public art initiative, “Celebrating Service: Honoring Our Volunteers.”
As part of that initiative, ECA will support an artist or team of artists in creating an original public sculpture that both honors and celebrates the past, present and future of volunteerism in the arts and cultural sectors of the city.
The selected artist will receive $10,000 — ECA’s largest amount ever offered — to cover all costs, including design fees, materials, fabrication, transportation and installation. The honorarium is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Collaborative for Educational Services, as well as the American Rescue Plan Act funds.
“Arts are thriving in Easthampton, and that community depends on the continued efforts of volunteers,” said Pasqualina Azzarello, City Arts coordinator. “And we want to celebrate that.”
The sculpture will be installed on Cottage Street along the Nashawannuck Pond boardwalk, near The Water’s Fine goods + coffee shop.
The future sculpture will be located not too far from the stainless steel “Center of the Universe” sculpture, created in 2016 by Belchertown Resident Brendan Stecchini. His interactive design was selected from a competitive pool of applicants in a similar request for proposals, according to Azzarello.
“When the Nashawannuck Pond Boardwalk was in its design phase, public art was a very intentional part of that redevelopment,” Azzarello said. “Part of the design included leaving concrete footpads that would house future public sculptures.”
In addition to celebrating and honoring volunteers, the sculpture will also serve as a tribute to Debra Tautznik and Denise Herzog, who were longstanding volunteers in the arts and culture community.
Tautznik, who is the late wife of former Mayor Michael Tautznik, died after falling down a flight of basement stairs during her Volunteer shift at the Cultural Chaos arts festival in June 2015. According to previous Gazette reports, the event included a ribbon-cutting for the boardwalk, a project championed by both Debra and Michael Tautznik.
Herzog, who was a potter and ceramicist who helped found the Cottage Street Studios in the 1980s, was struck by a minivan in a crosswalk near One Cottage Street in December 2018. She later died at Baystate Medical Center.
“Both of these women had a huge influence in the arts community,” said Denise Riggs, Chairperson of the Public Art Subcommittee.
Riggs and fellow committee member Marcia Morrisson brought the idea forward to commemorate their collective contributions to the arts community.
“We were throwing around ideas around what to do and discussed a sculpture about volunteerism — both of these women were so essential to our volunteerism in Easthampton,” Morrisson said. “Volunteerism is such a big part of the Renaissance of art that makes Easthampton what it is today.”
The criteria for the future sculpture includes aesthetics, adequacy of response to the theme, site specificity, originality, safety, feasibility and durability, Azzarello said. The sculpture should also be structurally sound and able to weather the seasons.
“We’re really open to exploring a wide range of designs. We are a committee of artists and art enthusiasts. We welcome and encourage people to be very creative in their thinking,” she said. “As the city of Easthampton continues to grow and develop, public art truly continues to be a priority for our city and a way to activate public spaces, acknowledge Meaningful aspects of our community, place and belonging when done with thoughtfulness and intention.”
The deadline for proposals is Thursday, Oct. 20. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and can be from anywhere, although priority will be given to local and regional applicants.
A finalist will be announced in December. The sculpture is slated to be unveiled at a ceremony next June. For more information, visit easthamptoncityarts.com, where applications can be submitted online. Applications can also be mailed to Easthampton City Arts, 50 Payson Ave., Easthampton, MA 01027 ATTN: PUBLIC ART.
Emily Thurlow can be reached at [email protected]