By Jacob Knipes
Downtown Rutland will be receiving a new art exhibit this fall. The donation of a train statue currently located in the West Rutland Art Park was approved in a unanimous vote at the Board of Aldermen meeting on July 5.
The statue, officially titled “Across Time and Space,” was built by Chinese Artist Guohua Xu using Vermont-sourced scrap metal for the 2013 international sculpture symposium.
“My wife had a symposium with about 12 artists,” William Carris, proprietor of the West Rutland Art Park alongside his wife Barbara, said. “They came, stayed with us and each had a month to produce a statue of some kind. A couple were steel, the train was made of scrap metal, some were made out of marble. So they got moved down to the field in front of our house and were there for about six or seven years as an art park in West Rutland.”
Roughly 12 feet tall and 32 feet long, the steampunk-esque statue has sat at the foot of the Art Park since the symposium ended in 2013, greeting both those entering the Art Park and travelers who drove by it on Clarendon Ave. Its time in West Rutland has come to an end, however, as the Carrises recently sold the property. Needing a place to move the statue to, Carris settled on the historic train town of Rutland.
“Well when we first did this, you know, I felt that it would belong in Rutland when we sold our house simply because of the train town, and the train station and the new activity with the new line,” Carris said. “So it just made sense as the new place.”
With the goal of Rutland in mind, Carris called upon Paul Gallo, who has previously been a part of Rutland’s Creative Economy project, to help him find the right location.
“He had asked that I regroup some of those Creative Economy members to start strategizing areas, specific locations in Rutland that it might land,” Gallo said.
“Well we had thought that there were several locations in Rutland, including Route 4 and 7 down across from the Diamond Run Mall that was ruled out,” Gallo said. “I think that the Art world likes to have their art visually seen and touched, photo opportunities and those kinds of things.”
With visibility, accessibility and history in mind, Gallo and Carris settled on the Amtrak Station in Rutland to be the statue’s new home. The duo proceeded to bring their proposal to the Aldermen, who after some discussion of the moving process and expenses, all to be covered by Carris, agreed.
“It was great of the Aldermen to say yes in just one meeting,” Carris said.
As discussions continue regarding the move, Gallo has set a target date in mind for an installation for this fall. Gallo expressed his hope that the piece can be a welcoming introduction to Rutland for travelers.
“You know it is just another piece to sell Rutland,” Gallo said. “The architecture downtown is wonderful. A lot of old train industry monies were invested downtown in all those beautiful buildings. It all ties it together with all of these new folks coming into Rutland and then the transportation of people from New York to Burlington. It’s just a small piece to the puzzle but it is an important piece.”