The Simsbury Chamber of Commerce has visions to turn Simsbury into a walkable art exhibit.
This spring, the chamber hopes to install 23 works by the sculptor Seward Johnson, who's known for making real-life bronze statues depicting people doing day-to-day activities.
The chamber unveiled the first one, called "Special Delivery," that depicts a mail carrier, at Septemberfest. It's currently on display outside Fitzgerald's Foods.
To display the rest, it will take a fundraising drive. The chamber and premier sponsor Simsbury Bank will host a fundraiser on Nov. 30 at the bank's office, located at 981 Hopmeadow St., to hopefully attract more sponsors.
Gray said the hope is that by bringing art by a known and renowned artist to the streets of Simsbury, they'll attract more visitors to the town, in turn benefiting local businesses.
"The goal is to bring more people into Simsbury and to get our residents out into the community, enjoying the sculptures and the myriad other attributes the town holds," Gray said. "The Simsbury chamber's first consideration is always to strengthen the vitality of the local business community. Having more feet on the street will help to do that."
Gray said the first sculpture has drawn inquisitive reactions from residents of all ages.
Gray said to make this project happen to its fullest potential, community support is needed. They will be renting the statues, some of them valued in the art world at $150,000. Gray said they've gotten good support so far from local businesses.
"Our local business community has been very supportive and has pledged considerable financial backing, because they see the great value of bringing this project to Simsbury," Gray said. "But much more is needed and we encourage the community-at-large to get involved, as well."
Gray said chamber is offering sponsorship packages with value benefits starting at $150. But even donations below that can help complete the vision of turning Simsbury into a a town-wide open air art gallery.
"How nice will it be to take the kids out on a Sunday afternoon, visit all the sculptures, talk and learn about them, take pictures, and then finish with a casual dinner at one of Simsbury's many great eating establishments," Gray said. "We are hoping that even local residents will be so excited about the possibilities that they will want to support it financially."
Gray, who saw many of the pieces that will be coming to Simsbury at a different exhibit, looks forward to the day she gets to see Simsbury residents react to these different statues.
"I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to see them there, so, what I am most excited about, is seeing the faces and hearing the comments of residents and visitors when they finally get to see and touch these sculptures, as they are really quite extraordinary," Gray said. "Everyone is really going to love it."
The plan is for the sculptures to be on display around Simsbury from May 15 through Sept. 15.