Public Art Unveiling to be held Thursday, September 6

ublic art installation a result of collaboration of business and arts communities

The vision of creating public art installations will become a reality as the first piece is unveiled at a ceremony at Royal Fine Cleaners, 2002 University Boulevard in downtown Tuscaloosa on Thursday, September 6 at 6:30 p.m. 

The idea of introducing public art in the community was formed following Benchmarking Trips to Greenville, South Carolina, and Lexington, Kentucky. 

“We’re thrilled these benchmarking trips have had such a profound impact on the attendees,” says Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama President and CEO Jim Page. “Having private business leaders take the initiative to create positive change in the community is a direct result of them being inspired by what they saw in other places. It’s exciting to see an idea become reality in such a short period of time.” 

Bill Wright, the owner of Royal Fine Cleaners and member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, felt that committing to the installation of a piece of public art was something he could accomplish in the short term. “I knew that going to Greenville would open my eyes and give me a brand new perspective,” Wright says. “I’m not an ‘artsy’ person, but I saw the value of public art.” 

Others in the arts community hope Wright’s initiative will serve as an example for others who would like to get involved. “I appreciate Bill’s leadership on this inaugural piece,” says Jim Harrison III, owner of Harrison Galleries, who also attended the benchmarking trips. “This is a great first ‘out-of-the-gate’ venture.” 

Craig R. Wedderspoon, Associate Professor of Sculpture at the University of Alabama, says the piece is an excellent choice. “We are extremely excited to have such a high quality sculpture by acclaimed artist Ted Metz here in downtown Tuscaloosa,” he says. “This sculpture, along with Steve Davis’ piece on the Black Warrior River, are two excellent examples of the kind of public arts programming we are working to see more of all around the city and county in the future.” 

Metz’s sculpture, STRUCTURAL MECHANICS, was selected by a committee representing Royal Fine Cleaners, The Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa, the City of Tuscaloosa, the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, and the local community. 

“The introduction of public art to the citizens of Tuscaloosa plays a major role in the expression of the community’s commitment to the arts and also to creativity as an economic force,” says Sandra Wolfe, Executive Director, The Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa. “This project represents a true collaboration between the business and arts communities. I couldn't be happier with the end result!”  

Artist Bio

Born in Ohio, Ted Metz received his BFA from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia and the MFA in sculpture from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina. He joined the faculty at the University of Montevallo in 1973 and retired as professor Emeritus in 2016. During his tenure at the University, Ted has received many teaching awards including: University Scholar, Distinguished Teacher of the Year, Outstanding Commitment to Teaching, and Alabama Professor of the Year, a national award presented by the Carnegie Foundation.  

Creatively, Metz has been successful in exhibiting his sculpture in numerous exhibitions, including those in Venice and Cortona, Italy, and the National Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. He has been recognized and has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and has been awarded the Visual Arts Fellowship from the State of Alabama in 1986 and 2014. He continues to be a productive sculptor producing smaller indoor works while also pursuing opportunities for large public commissioned work.  

Ted and his artist wife, Robin Nance Metz collaborate on functional and sculptural ceramics and maintain their studios in Montevallo, Alabama.