BRISTOL, Va. — With just two months remaining before its scheduled unveiling, artist Val Lyle has nearly finished her part of a planned downtown musical sculpture.
Lyle is working on “Take the Stage,” a large outdoor art piece scheduled to be placed across Cumberland Street from the new Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Virginia. The sculpture — two life-size bronze musicians with instruments and a microphone, is a project of Twin City nonprofit Art in Public Places and sponsored by Marvin and Marcia Gilliam.
Lyle plans to finish the female fiddler — the second of two clay-covered foam figures — this week and transport it to a Georgia foundry so the bronze statue can be poured. It is scheduled to be unveiled July 31, the day before the museum is scheduled to open to the public.
“I’ve got my ears pinned back and working hard to get this done,” Lyle said Tuesday inside her studio at the William King Museum. “It’s tough because of the hours here I can’t stay late.”
Work began last September and this project has consumed much of her time since.
Lyle recently transported the male musician to Georgia inside her SUV rather than shipping it inside a large truck. The secret, she said, was properly supporting the form and leaving the air conditioning on during stops so the clay didn’t melt. She plans a similar trip this weekend once a few more details are completed.
“She needs hair and I’ve gotten her face blocked in, but I’d like to really work on the details. I need to do some work on her forearms and I’ve got to put some texture on the skirt,” Lyle said while fussing with the oil-based clay that covers the foam form.
Lyle also has to complete work on the microphone, which will include a small reproduction of the landmark Bristol sign.
“The microphone will be between the musicians, so when people step in there to have their picture taken, I want the Bristol sign right there in front,” Lyle said.
The schedule is relentless, as the base is to be placed in Cumberland Square Park this summer.
“We’re going to pour a footer by mid-July. We’ll have the granite stone delivered and the kids [statues] come home the third or fourth week of July,” Lyle said. “We’ll unveil on July 31.”