Archive for the ‘Public Art’ Category

Downtown Spartanburg, SC, Mural Celebrates USC Upstate’s 50th Anniversary

May 29, 2017

As part of its 50th Anniversary Celebration, the University of South Carolina Upstate commissioned a commemorative mural and it is catching a lot of attention along a major corridor in downtown Spartanburg. The 50th Anniversary mural marks a significant part of the USC Upstate’s history while providing a visual voice that the university remains youthful, energetic and cutting edge.

“I cannot be more excited to have the University of South Carolina Upstate mural featured in downtown Spartanburg,” said Chancellor Brendan Kelly. “This amazing artwork encapsulates the history of USC Upstate, its strong reputation of serving as a critical force in fulfilling regional and state workforce needs, and its brilliant future.”


Eli Blasko, co-owner of Bannan Blasko, LLC, perched on scaffolding, works diligently on the border of one of the mural’s panels.

The mural spans the entire wall of Gallery East, located at 512 East Main Street just a block away from the intersection of East Main Street and Pine Street.

“I am eternally grateful to Jason Hiltabiddle for providing such a prominent location for USC Upstate to share its remarkable story,” said Kelly. “This is just the beginning of how USC Upstate intends to approach deliberate storytelling and branding.”


USC Upstate graduate Russell Bannan, co-owner of Bannan Blasko LLC, works on some of the intricate details of the mural.

The mural focuses primarily on themes of education, growth, vitality and strength, which permeate the design in a multitude of ways, on both literal and symbolic levels.

“This allows it to capture the values of the institution’s character and mission, while simultaneously allowing it to stand freely as a unique and cohesive piece of fine art,” said Russell Bannan, a graduate of USC Upstate and co-owner of Bannan Blasko LLC, a public art and design focused media company that designed and painted the mural.


Eli Blasko, top, Miranda Peterson, center, and Russell Bannan, below, spent Friday and Saturday working on the USC Upstate mural painted on the wall of Gallery East, located at 512 E. Main Street.

Compositionally, the mural is strategically designed to lead the viewer’s eye from left to right. Because of this, imagery from early in the school’s history is placed at left, visually the “beginning” of the piece, and more contemporary imagery is placed at right.

“In this way, a longer viewing experience should be punctuated by seeing the Upstate logo within a robust visual backdrop before walking away. Likewise, someone passing by quickly in a vehicle or on foot will be drawn to the area of the mural housing the USC Upstate logo,” explained Eli Blasko, co-owner of Bannan Blasko LLC.


Eli Blasko, top, Miranda Peterson, center, and Russell Bannan, below, spent Friday and Saturday working on the USC Upstate mural painted on the wall of Gallery East, located at 512 E. Main Street.

The artistic talent of Bannan and Blasko can be found throughout including “There’s only one. Spartanburg” mural and the popular “Love Where You Live” mural that the two worked with other artists to create. They have also painted the crosswalks at Liberty and East Main Streets and completed several sculptural murals for Drayton Mills Loft Apartments.

With 6,000 students, more than 1,000 employees and nearly 30,000 alumni who live in the area, the USC Upstate 50th Anniversary mural is sure to become a popular destination for photos and institutional pride.

For more information, contact Tammy E. Whaley, assistant vice chancellor for university communications, at 864/503-5210 or e-mail her at (twhaley@uscupstate.edu).

Explaining the symbolism in the mural:

Peaches – The present location of the USC Upstate campus owned by Henry Gramling who used the land as a peach orchard and soybean farm. In 1967, the Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education acquired 22 acres of land from Mr. Gramling for $100,000 and he donated 27 acres for the establishment of a new campus, which now includes 300 acres.

Scenic background – The beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains can often be seen from the USC Upstate campus.

Trees – Since 2008 USC Upstate has been designated a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, for its dedication to campus forestry management and environmental stewardship. USC Upstate is also home to the 12-acre Susan Jacobs Arboretum that is a place of serene natural beauty. It features a 300-seat amphitheater, lighted walkways, foliage indigenous to the area, and rows of Nuttall Oak trees defining the north quadrangle. A meandering creek lined with stones and boulders completes this tranquil setting.

USCS Rifles – Prior to 2004, the University was named University of South Carolina Spartanburg and its mascot was The Rifles, which paid homage to the Revolutionary War history of the Upstate of South Carolina. On July 1, 2004, the name was changed to University of South Carolina Upstate to signal a new era of academic expansion to Greenville, tremendous growth, qualitative improvements and economic impact across the I-85 corridor. The mascot was changed to Sparty to maintain a connection to the original name and commitment to the Spartanburg community.

177 Founding Class – The Spartanburg Regional Campus of the University of South Carolina opened on September 18, 1967 at Spartanburg General Hospital. Student enrollment was 177 of which 36 were nursing majors.

Nurses Cap – The university was founded when Spartanburg General Hospital (now Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System) announced plans to close its nursing education program, which would create a dire nursing shortage for Spartanburg County. A drop shadow creates a three-dimensional quality to the image, and visually brings the portrait forward to emphasize its importance as a historical symbol for the university.

Gold Dome – The Gold Dome that sits atop the John C. Stockwell Administration Building, which is the first building erected on the campus in 1969. It is a gleaming iconic university symbol that has remained unchanged since the Spartanburg Regional Campus (now USC Upstate) was officially dedicated on April 17, 1970.

1967 – 2017 – The South Carolina General Assembly passed Act No. 36 on February 16, 1967 to establish the
Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education to undertake the creation of a university campus in Spartanburg. USC Upstate is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

50 Years – The University is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

Spartan – This Spartan symbol represents the USC Upstate Spartans athletic teams. Sparty is the USC Upstate mascot.

#SpartanStrong – Spartan Strong, a slogan of support for USC Upstate, conveys the unique strength and resiliency that allows an Upstate Spartan to carry on no matter the situation. The phrase was initially coined in October 2015 as words of encouragement and unity for University community upon the death of four student-athletes.

30,000 Alumni – Nearly 30,000 students have earned their degrees from USC Upstate. Approximately 85 percent of the alumni choose to remain in the Upstate to build their lives and careers, making a significant impact on the region’s economy and quality of life.

Diploma Scroll – The diploma scroll signifies the successful attainment of degrees.

Globe – The globe pays tribute to USC Upstate’s diverse and dynamic community of approximately 6,000 students from 26 states and 17 countries, USC Upstate is a wonderful blend of traditional and nontraditional students who reflect the Upstate’s rich international character. Home to more than one million people and boasting the highest per capita international investment of any county in the nation, the Upstate region provides boundless academic, professional, and cultural outlets for students to develop skills and establish meaningful connections.

The University of South Carolina Upstate is a regional, comprehensive university that offers more than 40 bachelor’s degree programs in the liberal arts and sciences, business administration, nursing, and teacher education, and master’s degrees in education, informatics, and nursing. These are degrees that help students to transition easily to careers in the Upstate region. USC Upstate is committed to fulfilling regional and state workforce needs and thus the university is a major engine of social and economic development.  Comprised of a diverse and dynamic community of approximately 6,000 students from 26 states and 17 countries, USC Upstate is a wonderful blend of traditional and nontraditional students who reflect the Upstate’s rich international character. USC Upstate offers a balance of strengths that, when added up, results in a learning experience that’s hard to match. The academic programs are accredited and highly ranked, with amazing research and internship opportunities for students. USC Upstate has its main campus in Spartanburg, the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics and the UPSTATE Gallery on Main in downtown Spartanburg, two locations in Greenville, SC, and a growing number of programs online. The USC Upstate Spartans, which fields 17 varsity sports, compete on the NCAA Division I level as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Nearly 30,000 alumni have earned degrees from USC Upstate and approximately 85 percent choose to remain in the Upstate region to build their lives and careers, making a significant impact of the region’s economy and quality of life.

Learn more at (www.uscupstate.edu).

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City of Spartanburg, SC, Selected as Recipient of up to $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies for Public Art Project

June 29, 2015

Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced that the City of Spartanburg, SC, has been selected as one of four cities to receive up to $1 million as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, a new program aimed at supporting temporary public art projects that engage communities, enhance creativity, and enrich the vibrancy of cities. The city’s project, “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light,” will highlight public safety and the relationship between citizens and law enforcement officers in Spartanburg, and will be developed and executed over the next 24 months.

Bloomberg Philanthropies invited mayors of US cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for innovative temporary public art projects that address a civic issue, and demonstrate close collaboration between artists or arts organizations and city government. Proposals covered a range of issues, such as the revitalization of decayed downtown areas, underutilized waterfronts, and vacant neighborhoods. They also addressed social themes including neighborhood safety, environmental sustainability, and promoting city identity. More than 230 cities submitted proposals for consideration in the Public Art Challenge, representing 68 million residents across the United States.

“We are ecstatic to have been selected,” Spartanburg Mayor Junie White said. “The Bloomberg Philanthropies grant will allow the City to partner with the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg to develop a truly special public art project that I know will inspire our citizens. I want to thank the Bloomberg Philanthropies for this display of belief in our project and our city.”

“Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light” is a partnership among internationally recognized light and digital media artist Erwin Redl, The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, and City of Spartanburg departments and civic leadership. The project will use a collaborative, neighborhood-based art-making process to enhance community policing and public safety efforts aligned with the annual National Night Out program. Its artistic objective is to provide residents and visitors with unique and dramatic aesthetic experiences of light breaking free of a purely functional role, to redefine public spaces, reduce crime, re-energize neighborhoods, educate and foster greater pride of place.

By bringing site-specific art into Spartanburg neighborhoods where residents may feel isolated from traditional cultural assets, the project will foster greater understanding of both the artistic process and the transformative impact of public art. The project will eliminate barriers to engagement as residents become part of the artistic process and help translate ideas into works of art. By de-mystifying art and artists, the project will deepen Spartanburg citizens’ personal commitment to art and culture as a shared value.

Spartanburg’s 21 neighborhood associations will be invited to submit a letter of interest to the City of Spartanburg as a demonstration of their interest in participating and their commitment to contributing to the collaborative process. Their application will outline their case for a light installation in their neighborhood and present the project team that will work with Mr. Redl and the other project partners. The intent is to select five neighborhoods that represent a diverse cross-section of Spartanburg’s residents and socio-economic backgrounds.

The Public Art Challenge grant will cover development, execution and project-related expenditures but will not fund 100 percent of project costs. The grant is intended to provide catalytic funds as part of a strong, committed consortium of supporters.

Cities of all sizes applied to the Public Art Challenge. Nearly half of the 237 submissions were from cities with populations fewer than 100,000 residents; 38 percent had populations between 100,000 and 500,000; and 13 percent of the applicant cities had more than 500,000 residents. A variety of artistic disciplines were represented amongst the applications: 61% of the proposed public art projects involved visual art, 19 percent combined multiple disciplines, 17 percent featured digital media, and three percent focused on the performing arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies narrowed the application to 12 finalists, including Spartanburg, in February.

Submissions were evaluated on a number of factors, including their potential viability as dynamic public art projects, their impact on civic issues, and capacity to establish or strengthen public-private partnerships. More information about the Public Art Challenge can be found on (http://publicartchallenge.bloomberg.org).

More information about “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light” can be found on (bloomberg.org), and more more information about artist Erwin Redl can be found on (paramedia.net).

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $462 million. For more information on the philanthropy, please visit (bloomberg.org) or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

One Columbia Unveils New Public Art Piece on Main Street, Columbia, SC

September 30, 2014

One Columbia for Arts and History and the City of Columbia are pleased to announce the installation and unveiling of the first sculpture resulting from the public art pilot program, in Columbia, SC.

Commissioned with a generous donation from Sean McCrossin, owner of Drip coffee shops and Scoopy Doo gelato shop, 1400 Block of Main, the piece entitled “Hanging” was created by local artists Eileen Blyth and Mark Finley. As Blyth explains, “This sculpture is an invitation to play…to stop and sit and play, or just listen. One Columbia is the force behind the Main Street public art initiative. And without the city’s support, this sculpture and many more to come would not happen. It is very exciting to be a part of.”914one-columbia-eileen-blyth|
“Hanging” was created by local artists Eileen Blyth and Mark Finley

“I am very happy to be a part and help One Columbia, the City of Columbia and the Mayor in their endeavor to fill the streets with creative, inspired and inspiring art that will hopefully remind us of this colorful city in which we live.” says McCrossin.

The sculpture consists of five tank drums (also known as hank drums) fabricated from propane tanks mounted to painted seats. Each drum is tuned differently to allow for unique harmonies to be played. The piece is installed in front of 1441 Main Street.

“Public art is inspirational, thought provoking and even more so when it’s interactive. ‘Hanging’ will give the public the opportunity not just to observe but to participate.” says Karel Givens, Vice President of City Center Partnership, the organization that manages the downtown Business Improvement District (BID).

“From increasing funding to our arts and cultural organizations to displaying local artists’ work in City Hall, we have taken several important steps this year toward realizing our vision of Columbia as a true City of Creativity,” said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. “This sculpture and the new public art program it represents is a giant leap forward and I couldn’t be more proud.”

The public art program administered by One Columbia for Arts and History represents the joint efforts of multiple departments of the City of Columbia, the City Center Partnership, and the Community Relations Council who all contributed to make the process a success. The framework established by these partners will carry over to the creation of future pieces throughout the City of Columbia.

Lee Snelgrove, Executive Director of One Columbia for Arts and History explains, “Public art can define a place and give it a distinctive and inviting personality. Because of the relationships that have been made in establishing this formal process for commissioning public art, we’ll be able to continue bringing work to Columbia that will demonstrate the level of creativity and talent in this city.”

Artists interested in submitting their qualifications for consideration for future projects can find the call for artists on the One Columbia for Arts and History website at (onecolumbiasc.com).

One Columbia for Arts and History is a non-profit corporation that works to promote collaboration among citizens, the cultural community, and city government through celebrations of Columbia’s arts and historic treasures. Its goal is to enhance the quality of life for our residents, attract tourist dollars to our city, and further build our vibrant community. In short, it serves as the promotional arm of the City for Columbia’s cultural community.

Visit the One Columbia website (http://onecolumbiasc.com) for a continuously updated master list of art and cultural activities occurring throughout the city.