Art Meets Business
Handshake - as it will appear in the Oyster Point traffic circle.
Every day, 20,000 vehicles drive along Thimble Shoals Boulevard, the “main street” of the 700-acre Oyster Point commercial district in midtown Newport News. That is 40,000 eyes, and probably more.
Stilling talks to students at Woodside High School in Newport News, November 2011. Photo by Melanie Sochan.
In March of 2013, those eyes will be in for a treat: as a stunning sculpture will be installed in the traffic circle at the entrance to City Center, the mixed use complex in Oyster Point. In cast aluminum 10 feet tall and 13 feet wide, it will depict two hands, rendered in sculptor Gunter Stilling’s arresting style, drawing together in the traditional sign of a commitment to do business.
Handshake, as Stilling titles his work, will be an icon, for what better symbol is there for the Peninsula’s “central business district”? It promises to become a landmark for the thousands of people who come to Oyster Point each day to work, to visit professionals, to shop … to do business.
In January 2012, work on Handshake got underway in Stilling’s studio in Pietrasanta, Italy. Casting and welding the hands and crafting their stainless steel skeleton will go on for several months. But the process of bringing them to Newport News started years ago when the plans for City Center anticipated public art and the traffic circle was designed with sculpture in mind. This shouldn’t surprise a close observer of how business is done in Newport News, where city leaders keep an attentive eye on not only the economics but also the aesthetics of its burgeoning commercial sector.
The Artist: Gunther Stilling
The body takes on fantastic forms in the hands of Gunther Stilling. Working in metal and stone, he creates body parts — heads, feet, hands, torsos — that are rooted in antiquity while, at the same time, they seem to visit from a fantastic place in the future — or our imaginations.
With Stilling’s artistry, a foot that would be at home in a Roman forum sports machined metal elements evocative of a sandal. A face has fleshy lips and a metal bar securing the eye; the skin is scoured and sections of its underpinning are lifted away. A hand is detailed with whorled fingertips, a bandage and a palm that has been sectioned and rearranged.
Stilling’s works can be found in squares, town halls, museums and universities across Europe.
Making it Happen
A campaign is underway to raise the funds for Handshake from the businesses and individuals who make Oyster Point so successful. For more information, contact the Newport News Public Art Foundation at (757) 369-3014, and join the business community leaders who have already committed to the project:
Newport News Town Center LLC
Virginia Health Services, Inc.
Riverside Health System Foundation
Erwin B. Nachman
Tower Park Management
Virginia Company Bank
Dr. Vince Joseph
Alfonso and Associates, Inc.
In loving memory of Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Suddith
Tower Park Corporation
Howard Waters and Sandy Bridgman, Waters & Bridgman
Evangeline Yoder and J.T. Cutler
Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP
Whitman Requardt and Associates
Virginia Commonwealth Realty
Lynn and Jimmy Haggard
Drs. Robert Elgin, Denise Chamblee, Brian Keel, Steven Kitay, Matthew Reed and Gary Tanner
Tower Park Real Estate
735 Thimble Shoals Boulevard, Suite 100
Newport News, VA 23606
The Newport News Public Art Foundation is grateful for the support of the Virginia Commission for the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts