The Newnan Times-Herald

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Fiberglass animals to bring Newnan’s history to ‘life’


  • By Melanie Ruberti
  • |
  • Jun. 03, 2018 - 7:57 AM

Fiberglass animals to bring Newnan’s history to ‘life’

Melanie Ruberti / The Newnan Times-Herald

Tammy Troyer, president of the Newnan -Coweta Art Association, left and Bette Hickman, a member of the Art Association, enjoy a sneak peek at a freshly painted fiberglass pig.


A cornucopia of brightly colored and uniquely painted fiberglass farm animals will soon make their grand debut on Court Square. 

The fun and vibrant pigs, mules, cows and roosters play an intricate part in the third installation project hosted by the ChildrenConnect Museum and the Newnan-Coweta Art Association. 

The creative sculptures are in the final stages of design and are being “polished up” with a clear, weather-resistant coating to protect them from the elements, said Pamela Prange, founder of the ChildrenConnect Museum.

Prange carefully ferried the finished fiberglass figurines in the back of her SUV on Thursday and hand-delivered them to Southtowne Motors, which is covering the sculptures with the protective sealant. 

“Every artist is different and their style is different,” she said. “They’re extraordinary. It amazes me every time we do one of these projects. It’s so much fun to see how people react to the fiberglass statues on Court Square. They always want to know more about them.” 

David Clough is one of several artists who will have his hand-painted fiberglass sculpture showcased on the square. 

He handed off his multi-colored fiberglass pig to Prange at the Asa Powell Expo Center Thursday afternoon. 

Clough said he painted the fiberglass using a mixture of acrylic paint and silicone, which created vibrant colors and a unique texture. 

“I hope it catches people’s eyes,” Clough said. 

“I love the texture. It’s beautiful,” said Bette Hickman, a board member of the ChildrenConnect Museum, as she ran her hand over the art piece. 

Clough, an employee of Piedmont Newnan Hospital, painted the animal for the medical center. 

Piedmont Newnan is one of several community sponsors for the project. 

 
A storybook town

Board members of the ChildrenConnect Museum and the Newnan-Coweta Art Association added a new element to the 2018 fiberglass installation project. 

The group, along with members of the Carnegie Library, held a contest and commissioned local authors and artists to create a children’s book that would explain Newnan’s history in a fun and easy way. 

“Newnan, A Storybook Town,” was written by Sue Davis and illustrated by Janet Burns. 

The story centers around Coweta’s agricultural heritage and details Newnan’s humble beginnings. 

The children’s storybook features local, prominent historical figures. Those people are depicted by the farm animals in the book, said Laura Mattia, director of community outreach and marketing with the ChildrenConnect Museum. 

“The children’s book was the best way to connect children and adults with the fiberglass art in the community,” she explained. “The book is a fun interpretation of history in our town and key historical events across the nation.” 

The museum, along with the Newnan-Coweta Art Association, chose four of those animals to become the colorful, unique fiberglass displays to bring the storybook to life on Court Square. 

A total of 28 pigs, mules, roosters and cows will proudly call the popular downtown Newnan historical site “home” for at least one year, said Tammy Troyer, president of the Newnan-Coweta Art Association.    

She said between 35-40 artists, including children, helped paint the fiberglass animals. 

They created their designs within two months and did all the work on their own time – and on their own dime. 

“We love people to see all their hard work out on the square. The artists and the whole town really take pride in it,” said Troyer. 

Local sponsors, such as businesses and private citizens, already bought and paid for the fiberglass figurines, Troyer added.

As in years past, the proceeds will benefit the ChildrenConnect Museum. 

The fiberglass displays are one of the biggest fundraisers for the museum, Mattia said. 

 
Past projects help future endeavors

The first fiberglass installation project was started in 2012 by the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society. 

It was called the Horses of Newnan: “A Horsey Affair,” and featured 25 fiberglass horses, each painted by area artists. 

“Painted fiberglass horses had never been placed in any community in Georgia. We were the first ones to do that project in the state,” said Hickman. “We knew how much people in Coweta County loved horses. It was a success.” 

Fiberglass horses made a second debut during the second project unveiled in 2015 and called “Horses, Trains and Pick Up Trucks – All Roads Lead to Newnan.”

More horses, along with train cars and miniature pickup trucks, were painted and showcased on the square before being dispersed around Coweta County.  

The money raised from both projects was used to jumpstart the ChildrenConnect Museum in 2016. 

The non-profit organization is now in full swing and looking to expand.

Mattia said the money will help build interactive exhibits inside the museum. 

Those installations include miniature scale models of local facilities, called “Our Hospital,” “Our Grocery Store” and “Our Carnegie Library.”

The exhibits will allow children to engage within each miniature facility, use their imaginations and learn through active play, Mattia explained. 

One room in the museum will become a mini film studio, complete with a green screen. Children will be able to create their own short film or make a commercial, she said. 

Mattia also plans to refurbish the museum’s long hallway into another interactive installation that will depict more of downtown Newnan’s historic landscape, like the historic courthouse. 

The walls will be texturized and contain mini windows of Newnan buildings that children can peek into and read pertinent information, Mattia said.

But none of these future endeavors will happen without the fiberglass fundraisers – or the community, she added.  
 
“When people see the fiberglass animals, they’ll think of their children,” Mattia said. “All the hard work by the artists and sponsors will be reinvested back into Newnan.” 


The big reveal

The new fiberglass displays will be unveiled to the public the week of June 4.  

Because the weather will play an important role in cementing the sculptures and placing them on the square, a more permanent date will be decided by the end of next week, said Troyer.

Each sculpture will also include a plaque with the name of the artist and sponsor. 

“I can’t wait to see them all. I’m so excited,” Mattia said. “The talent recruited to paint the animals is so special. I’m glad we’ll get to showcase the displays on the square and share them with the community.” 

“It’s fun to see how the fiberglass has been transformed from the beginning to end,” added Hickman.

Prange said the displays seem to delight residents and visitors, both young and old. 

“There aren’t any age boundaries with these projects,” she said. “People of all ages seem to smile when they see the fiberglass figures. They want to touch them and take pictures with them. People never seem to lose interest in them.”

A special reception to honor the artists of the fiberglass installations and the author and illustrator of the storybook will be Sunday, June 4 at the Asa Powell Expo Center from 3-5 p.m.

Residents will be able to buy copies of  “Newnan: A Storybook Town,” during the “Homes of Distinction, Newnan’s Annual Spring Home Tour” on Saturday, June 9.

The children’s book will be inside the Historic Courthouse Visitor’s Center. 

Sue Davis and Janet Burns will also be on hand to autograph copies of the book. 

“Newnan: A Storybook Town,” will be sold at other locations as well.

•••

ABOUT THE CHILDRENCONNECT MUSEUM:

While only open a few years, the ChildrenConnect Museum has historical roots of its own.

The museum is housed inside the former Newnan Male Academy at 30 Temple Avenue.

The four-room school was built in 1883 and evolved over the years through the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society.

The children’s museum officially opened its doors to the community in September 2016.

Laura Mattia said close to 1,500 children visit the museum each year.

The nonprofit museum provides children with hands-on learning experiences.

Each room inside the building allows children of all ages to learn, explore and build art projects using colorful Lego sets of all sizes, small tools and a variety of art supplies, from recycled paper towel rolls and wood to paint and markers.

One room is specifically designed for babies and toddlers where they can focus on fine motor skills, such as stacking blocks or learning their ABC’s.

“Parents get involved and enjoy some quality time with their children,” Mattia said. “We have visitors who specifically come to Newnan for the museum. It’s one of the few places outside of Atlanta that children can come paint and play and enjoy learning about history.”

Mattia said she believes the fiberglass art projects fit into the museum’s mission.

“Newnan takes so much pride in their downtown area, their history, local artists and artwork. We’ve also checked off all those boxes at the museum,” Mattia explained. “We’re connected to the community and they’re willing to give us their time and talents for free. That speaks volumes.”