Visitors walking around Gainesville’s downtown area may notice a shiny new addition near Gainesville Renaissance and Brenau’s Downtown Campus.
On Friday, Sept. 2, Forsyth County artist Greg Johnson installed a piece called Nucleus, a modern, 7-foot stainless steel sculpture. Created in 2017, the piece is “simple and elegant geometry, meant to radiate energy from a central source, suggests a beginning,” according to the artist’s website.
The description also evokes the environment in which the sculpture now sits between the new Gainesville Renaissance and the renovated Brenau Downtown Center. The Gainesville Renaissance is the new home of the Lynn J. Darby School of Psychology and Adolescent Counseling, thanks to the generosity of Doug Ivester, a Brenau trustee and former Coca-Cola CEO who developed the property.
“Brenau is expanding its footprint in downtown Gainesville to coalesce into a true downtown campus location focused on health sciences,” Brenau President Anne Skleder said. “I’m grateful to Doug and Kay Ivester for their support. The generosity and commitment of the Ivesters to the people of Gainesville and Hall County focuses their extremely generous investment in education and the health sciences.”
Johnson said he is pleased with the placement of his work in a central location at Brenau’s Downtown Campus.
“It’s always exciting to have a nice piece of real estate to have sculpture on,” Johnson said. “We’ve sited about 1,500 works in the United States and the world and I’m never disappointed at the real estate that my work lands on. This, of course, is no exception.”
Johnson shared little of his own thoughts on the meaning of Nucleus, and instead wants others to enjoy the piece to find their own interpretation.
“When you look at a sculpture, you might ask yourself: Is it interesting to look at? Do the positive and negative shapes work well together? Does the work expand beyond its physical boundary?” Johnson said. “If you can answer ‘yes’ to those things, then you’re probably looking at a very interesting modern, abstract sculpture.”
The sculpture is leased by the university for two years.
Johnson’s work, and another modern sculpture recently installed nearby outside Brenau’s Downtown Center, add to the public art featured around Gainesville’s square. Frank Norton, Jr., a member of Brenau’s Board of Trustees and chair of the board’s public art committee, lauded the addition.
“Brenau University is synonymous with art, woven into its academic rigor and its social and cultural fabric. Their commitment to art and public art continues in their Downtown Campus,” Norton said. “Public art gives a community depth and individual expression. It rounds out historical, social and cultural resources and builds character. Art invites the viewer to participate with their heart, mind and memories.”
Johnson’s work is on display across the United States and beyond. Brenau’s historic Gainesville Campus features three bronze statues by Johnson: Contemporary Student and 1920s Student on the Front Lawn and the iconic Lucile Golden Tiger just off Green Street near the Jacobs Building.