On Tuesday, Nov. 25, Wilton unveiled the first sculpture in its new municipal sculpture program, something first selectman Bill Brennan championed personally to make it a reality.
The first piece was created by internationally-renowned artist Peter Rubino, a former Wilton resident of 28 years. Rubino donated the piece called “Nurture,” and it now sits on town-owned land on Hubbard St., on a patch of grass directly across from the Community Nursery School, near CVS.
The artist, who helped unveil the work, said that he was very encouraged by the program, which is meant to promote engagement with the arts and to beautify the Wilton Center area.
“I think it’s very important to the town. There’s a lot of culture. There’s a lot of artists, writers, musicians in the town, from every walk of life. They come here, live here, contribute here. I’m one of many who have an interest in creating a cultural environment for our children,” Rubino said.
Brennan said the program is something he hopes to grow so that there are several sculptures at various locations around Wilton.
“This seemed to make sense for Wilton. There’s been so much support for arts and music programs by our community. This was a program I thought was very appropriate for Wilton,” Brennan told the crowd, which included members of the advisory group that helped shape the program–Ed MacEwen, art chairman of the Wilton Library; attorney Steve Hudspeth; Pat Sesto, director of environmental affairs and Tom Thurkettle, director of Wilton’s public works department–as well as state senator Toni Boucher, state representative Gail Lavielle and the first selectman’s wife, Kathleen Brennan.
Hudspeth made a point to acknowledge the private support the first selectman and his wife have given to the project, by telling the crowd that the Brennans privately paid for the total cost of the base of the sculpture. Brennan said he had personal stake in keeping the program cost-free to the town and residents, and to insure that all of the art projects be funded privately rather than paid for with tax dollars.
“I couldn’t ask others to do that if I didn’t step up myself for the first one,” Brennan said.
During the unveiling presentation, a group of approximately 20 preschool students from the Community Nursery School were ushered by their teachers across the street to take part in the ceremony. They climbed all over the sculpture, something the artist and town officials all encouraged.
“The children in town should welcome it, embrace it, it’s quite rewarding,” Rubino said, of watching the children engage with his work of art. “I’m really happy about the position of it, and Bill’s interest in bringing sculpture to town.”
Jeff Mueller, gallery director at Silvermine, who is working with the town to bring more sculpture to the program, was pleased the program has kicked off as well.
“I thought it was great. Sculpture is an integral part of our history at Silvermine, we were founded by Solomon Borglum, who was known for public sculpture, so right off the bat it was a perfect fit,” Mueller says.
Evenutally, Mueller says, the town and Silvermine hope to piggyback a sculpture walk through Wilton Center with the similar program that already exists at Silvermine Art Center. He says they’ll also collaborate and share works, with the first piece to be loaned sometime in May. “We’re going to have an exhibition of the monumental sculptor Carole Eisner so we thought how great would it be to have the show there and one piece here in Wilton. It makes a really great relationship,” he explained.
It’s a relationship bucking a sometimes-trend when art doesn’t get the kind of support this program does show. “I think it’s unbelievable that a town official and government is supportive. Usually arts funding is sometimes the first thing cut on bigger budget lines. There is relationship between place-making and art,” Mueller added.