SHEFFIELD — It took longer than expected, but Mayor Ian Sanford said the Shoals’ first Singing River sculpture will be worth the wait.
The first of several aluminum sculptures created to depict the Shoals’ 50-year music heritage will be unveiled Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. in Sheffield’s Love Plaza.
“It’s massive,” Sanford said. “It’s really nice. I’m very impressed. I think when people see the finished product, they’re going to be proud it wasn’t a rush job.”
Work on the project was started well over a year ago by Shoals artist Audwin McGee.
After several setbacks, the 18-by-20 sculpture was delivered to the city Aug. 24.
McGee will be creating similar sculptures for Florence, Muscle Shoals and Tuscumbia. Florence and Muscle Shoals have raised money for their sculptures, while Tuscumbia is still a few thousand dollars short, according to Bill Matthews, who helped spearhead the project with Dave Anderson.
Matthews said he expects Tuscumbia will be able to raise the remainder of the money once Sheffield’s sculpture is unveiled.
Sanford said the sculpture will be mounted on the site of the old fountain on North Montgomery Avenue.
Joe Keenum Excavation & Construction filled in the fountain with concrete to create a pad for the sculpture.
Eventually, there will be spotlights to illuminate the shiny metal sculpture and a plaque mounted nearby recognizing the donors who contributed to the project.
Mary Settle Cooney, executive director of the Tennessee Valley Art Association, said Matthews and Anderson have worked diligently to help raise money and see the projects to their completion.
“It’s for the love of their community that they’re doing this,” Cooney said. “They’re committed to raising the money to build the sculptures and some other projects in the community because they want the community to succeed and have a face on its musical heritage.”
Cooney said the association is acting as the fiscal agent for the project.
Sheffield raised $23,500, which was used to pay McGee for his work, as well as pay for construction of the concrete foundation.
The remaining money will be used for the lighting and commemorative plaque.
Sanford said Sheffield’s sculpture will become a focal point for a downtown that’s been slowly improved through a series of streetscape projects.
While the sculpture is literally being kept under wraps until the unveiling, Sanford said some people might look at it and see Elvis Presley.
“It’s not Elvis,” he quickly added. “It’s a guy with a guitar in front holding a microphone.”
He said each person will have their own interpretation of what the sculpture represents.
“Basically, what it’s supposed to do is depict the music of the Shoals,” he said.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.