Darryl Simmons, the city’s planning and zoning administrator, presented plans to the city council this fall for the creation of the art and culture commission, which will focus on adding public art around the city.
Promoting ‘identity and character’
Simmons said that the idea came about during the summer as residents had been approaching the city with questions about the display of art in the city.
The city realized, Simmons said, “we don’t have any public art in the city” besides a few buildings with murals, but he hopes that someday Kennesaw will be littered with sculptures and paintings.
“Art helps promote the identity and character of the town you are in. In most other cities, there is art that reveals the identity of the town,” Simmons said.
The seven-member group will be tasked with deciding what qualities the city wants to express with its future art, and what art will be approved to be displayed.
Simmons hopes that the commission will serve as a group that can find and place art that portrays the city’s theme, history and vision, while promoting local artists as much as possible, he said.
As of late October, three people had voiced interest in joining the group, and as soon as the remaining spots on the commission are filled, they would start work on planning art for the city, Simmons said.
Art to develop city’s economy, community
Nicolas Palfrey, an eight-year Kennesaw resident, has been appointed to serve as the board’s licensed architect, he said. Palfrey has recently set up his own architectural practice, Studio Plan B, in Kennesaw, and wants to give back to his community while using his architectural expertise, he said.
“Like most of Atlanta’s periphery commuter towns there, there is a concerted effort to redevelop the town center,” he said of Kennesaw, and the ability to strategically incorporate art into the downtown development of the city, “will hopefully also make the community more self-sufficient, less of a dormitory town and more of a self-sustaining town.”
Palfrey said he has been taking pottery classes through the city’s community art classes for three years and hopes the board will have the chance to promote the work of local residents, not only of those involved in the community classes, but also of professor and student artists at Kennesaw State University.
If those KSU students begin to contribute to the city while in school, Palfrey hopes that they will be encouraged to stick around in Kennesaw, and add to the city’s community and economy.
Mayor Mark Mathews said he is encouraged by the positive effect the commission could have on the city as a whole and is excited to see the project develop, he said.
“Anything that expands the cultural offerings,” of the city will help it develop, he said.
The commission will be made up of one practicing architect, which is expected to be Palfrey, one member or active participant in local/state art councils or foundations with a professional background in art culture and education, two residents of Kennesaw, one active art student, teacher or professor, one Kennesaw business owner and one member of the Kennesaw Development Authority, Simmons said.
The commission is looking to fill these roles as soon as possible, and Simmons encourages those interested in serving to contact him via email, or by calling the city at (770) 424-8274.
As soon as the commission is filled, they will start approving and adding art to the city, Simmons said.
“Hopefully, we can improve the urban environment through encouraging public artwork, creating points of beauty, interest and reflection within the city that can help make Kennesaw a more interesting and enjoyable place for its residents,” Palfrey said.