The Dunwoody Art Commission approved two public art installations at its Oct. 5 meeting, paving the way for projects including metal butterflies and a wood-carved mural depicting the history of Dunwoody to get started. 

The wood-carved mural comes from the minds of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, and will be located outside of the Donaldson-Bannister Farm at 4831 Chamblee Dunwoody Road. The Preservation Trust is an organization dedicated to preserving and sharing Dunwoody’s history. 

Suzanne Huff, the executive director and chief operating officer of the Preservation Trust, said the idea for the mural started about two or three years ago after Preservation Trust members saw murals carved into a tree during a trip. 

“Here at the Donaldson-Bannister Farm, not long after we opened back up to the public, there was an old Pin Oak tree … that died. It was over 100 years old,” Huff said. “The thought came from our members … Hey, we’ve seen these trees up north carved in the round. What about if we cut it off and do a carving depicting the history of Dunwoody?”

The wood-carved mural will be placed outside of the Donaldson-Bannister Farm.

After the old Oak died, Huff said the Preservation Trust preserved parts of the tree and had those parts cut into slabs of wood. Those slabs have been drying for about 18 months, she said. After the wood is ready to go, Atlanta artist Tom Williams will carve images depicting the history of Dunwoody lengthwise into the slabs. The images will depict the city’s history “from the Native Americans up until today,” Huff said. 

The carving will take place over two 11-foot slabs. Where the slabs meet in the middle, there will be a third piece of wood that will be cut like the old Oak to symbolize the tree that used to stand on the property. 

Williams is the artist who will be taking on the project. Williams is an Atlanta-based sculptor who taught at the Spruill Center for the Arts from 1996 to 2018, according to his website. 

“He’s a well-renowned sculptor,” Huff said. “He works in various mediums, wood being one of them.”

Huff said that once finished, the mural would be located under the overhang of what she calls the “new barn,” which is situated overlooking a pasture that faces Chamblee Dunwoody Road. The mural is still in the preliminary stages of planning and likely won’t be finished for a year to 18 months. 

The commission also approved a public art installation that will be located outside of the Spruill Center for the Arts at 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road. The new art installation will be part of Spruill’s plan to make artistic changes to the center’s facade. 

“It’s an old-school building, and we’re trying to improve the aesthetics to make it look more like a community arts center,” said Spruill CEO Alan Mothner. 

Mothner said at the beginning of the year, Spruill asked its instructors to send proposals of how they would like to contribute to the building’s changes. Kathy Walton, who teaches welding at Spruill and is a sculptor, came forward with an idea for three-dimensional metal butterflies that would cover the center’s facade. 

A rendering of the Spruill Center for the Arts metal butterflies from Spruill’s public art application.

“The butterflies themselves will be adhered – we’re going to work with the city to try and figure out how to affix them to the building,” Mothner said. “The intent is that they are coming off the building and up into the sky.” 

According to Spruill’s public art application, the butterflies will be made from metal cut from recycled cabinets and shelving. The butterflies will be placed on the front of the building and should be visible from the road. Mothner said he is not sure on an exact timeline for the butterflies, but he’s hopeful the project will be finished soon.

“I’m hoping it will get done this year so that we can continue progressing forward with improving the look and feel of the building,” he said. 

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers.