Dunwoody Art Commission Endorses Spruill Butterflies and Carved Wood Mural

The Dunwoody Art Commission approved two public art installations at its October 5 meeting, paving the way for projects including metal butterflies and a carved wood fresco depicting the history of Dunwoody to begin with.

The carved wood mural comes from the spirit of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust and will be located outside the Donaldson-Bannister Farm at 4831 Chamblee Dunwoody Road. The Preservation Trust is an organization dedicated to preserving and sharing Dunwoody’s history.

Suzanne Huff, executive director and chief operating officer of the Preservation Trust, said the idea for the mural began about two or three years ago after members of the Preservation Trust saw murals carved into a tree on a trip.

“Here at Donaldson-Bannister Farm, shortly after we opened to the public, there was an old pine tree… which died. He was over 100 years old, ”Huff said. “The thought came from our members… Hey, we saw those trees to the north pruned in circles. What if we cut it up and made a sculpture depicting the history of Dunwoody? “

The carved wood mural will be placed outside the Donaldson-Bannister Farm.

After the old oak died, Huff said the Preservation Trust kept parts of the tree and had those parts cut into slabs of wood. These slabs have been drying for about 18 months, she said. Once the wood is ready for use, Atlanta artist Tom Williams will engrave images of Dunwoody’s story lengthwise into the slabs. The images will describe the city’s history “from Native Americans to the present day,” Huff said.

The sculpture will take place on two 11 foot slabs. Where the slabs meet in the middle, there will be a third piece of wood that will be cut like the old Oak to symbolize the tree that once stood on the property.

Williams is the artist who will take charge of the project. Williams is an Atlanta-based sculptor who taught at the Spruill Center for the Arts from 1996 to 2018, according to his website.

“He’s a renowned sculptor,” Huff said. “He works in various mediums, wood being one of them.

Huff said that when completed, the mural would be located under the overhang of what she calls the “new barn,” which overlooks a pasture that faces Chamblee Dunwoody Road. The mural is still in the early planning stages and will likely not be completed for another year to 18 months.

The commission also approved a public art installation that will be located outside the Spruill Center for the Arts at 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road. The new art installation will be part of Spruill’s plan to make artistic alterations to the centre’s facade.

“It’s an old school building, and we’re trying to improve the aesthetics to make it look more like a community arts center,” said Spruill CEO Alan Mothner.

Mothner said that earlier this year, Spruill asked his instructors to send in proposals on how they would like to contribute to the building changes. Kathy Walton, who teaches welding at Spruill and is a sculptor, came up with an idea for three-dimensional metal butterflies that would cover the front of the center.

A render of the Spruill Center for the Arts metallic butterflies from the Spruill Public Art app.

“The butterflies themselves will be respected – we will be working with the city to try to figure out how to affix them to the building,” Mothner said. “The intention is that they will come out of the building and go up into the sky.”

According to Spruill’s public art request, the butterflies will be made from metal cut from recycled cabinets and shelves. The butterflies will be placed on the facade of the building and must be visible from the road. Mothner said he was not sure of an exact timeline for the butterflies, but he hopes the project will be completed soon.

“I hope this will be done this year so that we can continue to make progress in improving the look and feel of the building,” he said.

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