Franklin Public Arts Commission holds inaugural meeting, seeks applications for public artwork

Franklin Public Arts Commission holds inaugural meeting, seeks applications for public artwork

The Franklin Theatre, seen during the 2017 Kiwanis Christmas Parade, is one of Franklin’s cultural gems./ Photo by Brooke Wanser.


A group of local leaders who aim to raise the profile of public art in Franklin, met Thursday at City Hall for the first Public Arts Commission meeting.

The group, comprised of nine citizens, “seeks to use art to enhance the quality of life for our citizens and visitors by encouraging a heightened sense of place, increasing our community’s visual quality of Franklin’s built environment,” according to the city’s website.

Julie Walton Garland, a commission member whose grandfather began Walton’s Antique and Estate Jewelry in 1974, said the downtown community has long been confused on the role of putting up art or allowing public art.

“Everybody just assumed that there was some sort of structure,” she said. “I think it’s just getting it off the ground and letting people know we do exist, and we’re open for applications” from artists.

At the meeting, the commission discussed how artist applications for public art displays would be vetted, and which areas would be appropriate for such displays. Shari Fox, the president of O’More College of Design, said parts of Franklin seem neglected, pointing to the Cool Springs area.

At-large Alderman Brandy Blanton said she also thought the McEwen interchange at Cool Springs was ripe for art installations, while noting that, “we don’t want to encourage a photo op over I-65.”

Assistant City Administrator Vernon Gerth suggested the commission invite artists who have done public art in other cities to come speak.

“We don’t need to make the same mistake when we have an opportunity to embrace it and help it forward,” he said of the fledgling commission.

Ellie Westman Chin, the president and chief executive officer of the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, was elected as commission chair, while Gary Vogrin, a landscape architect with Kiser+Vogrin, was elected as vice chair.

The complete commission is as follows:

Alderman Brandy Blanton
Shari Fox
Julie Garland
Kelly Harwood
Ashley Roberts
Kelly Selfe
Gary Vogrin
Ellie Westman Chin
Nan Zierden
Staff liason: Monique McCullough

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at p.m.

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