A special tour allows guests to not only learn about Augusta’s public art but to be part of creating it as well.
On Nov. 7, Augusta’s tour guide Michael Wolff donned his artist’s beret and apron and introduced people to all things art in downtown Augusta as part of Promenade and Paint, a twice monthly event that is part of the Authentic Augusta experiences promoted by Destination Augusta.
The focus is on public art such as the Augusta Sculpture Trail, the storm drain mural and Art The Box,” said Wolff, all three are initiatives of the Greater Augusta Arts Council.
Wolff, who operates Augusta Adventure Tours and Events, typically begins the tour on Reynold Street side of Augusta Common, and on Tuesday, he was befuddled when he arrived because one of the sculptures had been switched out.
Soccer Dude by Gonz Jove, a sculpture carved out of reclaimed Gander Mountain wood, had taken the place of Gregory Johnson’s What’s In the Queue? in the corner of the Common.
So, Wolff demonstrated what anyone visiting the Common can do. He pulled up the Otocast app ad and listened as the artist himself described the sculpture.
On Tuesday’s tour, a couple of artists joined in. Two of them were Cyndy Epps, who won the arts council’s 2023 Kath Girdler Engler Public Art Award, and Lexi Kay White. Both artists painted storm drain murals at the Common.
Wolff said he often highlights White’s mural on the tour, but this time, he let the artist share her vision for To Savannah.
White said water has a divine, feminine essence so she created a painting of a water goddess to bring those qualities together. She also added an alligator tail to the mural because it represented the South and some of the creatures living there.
Epps also painted a storm drain mural. Her Up the River rendering features the animals who live in and around the water as a reminder that what flows into the water affects them.
As Wolff led the group to Eighth Street, he referenced the former Woolworth’s building on the corner of Eighth and Broad. It has a couple of murals already painted on it, and soon it will have another, which is being created by those in the Promenade and Paint tours.
The mural includes the James Brown statue in the forefront, the Miller Theater and the Imperial Theatre, the Sixth Street train trellis and the James Oglethorpe statue.
It’s being painted inside Humanitree House, where patrons could sip some of the cold-pressed juices before putting on their own aprons and using a brush or their fingers similar to the way Baruti Tucker paints
Tucker is the creative force behind the mural and told the group about his vision for it.
The James Brown statue seems so short in real life, he said.
“Every time I went to the statue, I would imagine him being 20 feet more,” he said. “The Miller is very special to me because when I got her the Miller Theater was condemned. When I got here, I too was condemned. To see it refurbished and rebuilt is very special to me because it also reaffirms my love for the city and also reaffirms that there’s truly a love for the city. It’s a beautiful building.”
The tour is about two hours, and the next one is set for noon Nov. 11. The cost is $45. To book the next tour, go here.
Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up for the newsletter here.
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