LEWISTON — A symposium on the communitywide benefits of public arts and culture will be a prelude to a benefit for downtown’s newest public art project.

“Making places for art in communities can be an engine for economic- and community-based development,” Joshua Vink, president of L/A Arts, said.

L/A Arts is hosting the symposium to talk about public art and its impact on a community. The symposium is scheduled for 5 p.m. June 24 in Callahan Hall on the third floor of Lewiston Public Library.

“The idea is educate and inform and give context to people,” Vink said. “So, we’ve tried to get a cross section of people we think are a good representation of the arts and of public arts in Maine.”

The symposium is scheduled to last an hour, but arts discussion continues afterward at L/A Arts offices across the street at 221 Lisbon St.

Sculptor Charlie Hewitt will discuss his new  seven-piece sculpture, Lewiston Rattle, which is destined to go on display in the vacant lot at 163 Lisbon St., the former site of Marco’s Italian Restaurant.

“We’ll present a couple of the elements, one of which is in our office already,” Vink said. “We’ll have a second element here, so folks can come by afterward.”

It all ties in with what L/A Arts hopes to inspire with the display and by recognizing the value of two historic sculptures in the city by famed 1800s sculptor Franklin Simmons. One is the Civil War soldiers’ monument in Lewiston’s Kennedy Park; the other is the sculpture of Edward Little at the entrance to the Auburn high school that bears his name.

“This is something primary to the philosophies L/A Arts is trying to do,” Vink said. “That is, bring together local arts and cultural organizations and also to advocate for their particular work, but to bring public art to the forefront as well.”

Speakers at the symposium include Earle Shettleworth, director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission; Michael Shaughnessy and Jesse Salisbury, sculptors; and Julie Richard, executive director of the Maine Arts Commission. 

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