Downtown Public Art Unveiled

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On Sunday,  June 9 Milford’s shipbuilding heritage took center stage again as Downtown Milford Inc. (DMI) hosted the unveiling of six sculptures of the classic yacht Augusta at the Vinyard Shipyard on the banks of the Mispillion River, owned by Joan and Sudler Lofland. The six ART, “Art on the River Tour”, sculptures are the first phase in a 3-year public art project headed by Downtown Milford Inc., featuring sculptures of the classic yacht ‘Augusta’, built by Milford’s Vineyard Boat Yard in 1927.

Boat building is an ancient art and integral to Milford’s history. There were originally 7 boat-building yards in Milford but over time they all closed. Vineyard Boat Yard was bought by the present owners, Sudler and Joan Lofland. They rescued the Augusta, which was lying derelict in another state and restored it to its former glory and is now moored back in the Mispillion River.

“This public art project is more than just highlighting the arts in Milford, it is about economic development in our downtown,” commented Lee Nelson, Executive Director of Downtown Milford Inc. “With the Art on the River Tour we are taking economic development to the next level by creating public art that will be displayed all the time and forever.”

Designed by four local artists, the ships will be displayed permanently along the Mispillion River and throughout downtown Milford. The artists were commissioned to paint the sculptures based on the theme “River Town. Art Town. Home Town”. Five of the six boats were painted by Anne Jenkins, David Rule and Cathy Walls, as one was decorated with mosaic tile by Scott & Gail Angelucci.
“What I love about this project is that each sculpture, just like each artist in Milford, is very unique and brings something different to the community,” commented David Rule, owner of created.rule art gallery and The LadyBug Shop in downtown Milford. David and his student Kim McKinney designed and unveiled two Augusta sculptures at Sunday’s event.

Creating the opportunity for Milford artists to mentor art students, each artists was assisted by Milford High School students Ann McGehrin, Evelyn Orta, Carlo Rodriguez, and Kim McKinney. Each student was able to not only assist but also take the original ideas developed by each artist in a different direction. After unveiling the sculptures she helped create with David Rule, student Kim McKinney spoke to the crowd about her experiences.

“I usually paint on flat canvas so painting on a three dimensional sculpture was really a challenge for me,” commented McKinney. “I really enjoyed the time David and I spent on this and I learned a lot.”

Phase one of three, the completed ART project will see a total of 18 sculpture on public display beginning at the start of the Riverwalk on Maple Street and extending to Goat Island. The next round of sculpture will begin this fall as Downtown Milford Inc. looks for six more artists to leave their own mark on the MIlford community.

“I think the public art will give another dimension to the downtown by bringing the art outside of the buildings,” commented Joan Lofland, owner of the restored Augusta. “I hope that these sculptures inspire the public to become involved with our arts and the Milford community as a whole.”