Newport News’s outdoor art gallery is growing, with another dozen projects in various stages of development. Three will become realities very soon:


Hammer Tribute on display before arriving in Newport News

Hammer Tribute

“A tribute to hardworking people”: That’s how sculptor Jim Benedict describes Hammer Tribute. And a lot of working people will pass the 11’ tool-at-work when it’s installed at the busy intersection of Canon and Middle Ground Boulevards, in the center of the industrial and commercial area of Oyster Point.

Depicting a splintered hammer clawing a nail out of a block, it’s made of a work-a-day material, galvanized steel. It first came to Newport News when Benedict, then just 26, entered it in the Port Warwick Art & Sculpture Festival in 2006, and we’ve been waiting for the perfect place to put it ever since. Now that the City has added sidewalks along Canon and City Center Boulevards (formally Middle Ground Boulevard), we’ve found that spot.

Benedict’s work goes well beyond three-dimensional work to include photography, painting and video. In addition to being a working artist with exhibitions and commissions on his resume, he is an assistant professor of sculpture at Jacksonville University in Florida. To find out more about his work visit his website or Facebook page.

Girolamo Ciulla with a roughed-out stage of the Man and Crocodile, at Bottega Versiliese in Pietrasanta, Italy, March 2013.

Man and Crocodile

A bigger-than-life man — and the crocodile strapped to his back — will tell their stories along the new multi-purpose trail being built in midtown Newport News. Around the sculpture will be two crocodile sculpture benches for trail visitors to rest and take in the sculpture. Like much of Girolamo Ciulla’s work, they draw their stories from ancient mythology, in this case from Egypt.

Born in Sicily, Ciulla began to exhibit at the age of 17. In his early 30’s he was drawn, as so many artists are, to Pietrasanta, the Italian village where sculpture has been a dominant industry since the Middle Ages. He still lives and works there today, but his following is worldwide.

The roster of Ciulla’s exhibitions is extensive, and recent entries include shows in Paris, Florence, Seoul, Alabama, Venice, Rome and London and in the Biennale in Venice. Large-scale works have been installed in churches and public sites in France, Japan, Italy, South Korea, Egypt and Kenya. The commission by the Newport News Public Art Foundation is his first in the United States.

Artist Emanuele De Reggi and Chairman Bobby Freeman discuss plans to put a work of public art in the waters of the City Center Fountain. Photograph by Jonathon Gruenke of the Daily Press.

City Center Fountain

We are in the beginning stages of planning a sculpture project for the fountain in City Center. A long-range project still in the development phase, we are working with artist Emanuele De Reggi on the concept of multiple boats of different sizes that appear to float on the surface of the water. As the project develops we will provide updates here and on our Facebook page.