Big plans for Downtown Suwanee
TSW consultants working with the City of Suwanee to update the Downtown Suwanee Master Plan told participants in a recent email that the draft of the update "presents an exciting vision for new development, park space, street and greenway extensions, and more." Now, the planners and City of Suwanee are inviting residents to offer their input and "make sure [TSW and the City] got it right."
The draft of the updated Downtown Master Plan will be available for public review, questions, and comments at an open house from 4-8 p.m. Thursday, July 9, at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. This is a drop-in event; no formal presentation will be made.
Previous Downtown Master Plan public meetings have included a March 5 kick-off and April 20 visioning workshop.
At the April workshop, planning consultants with TSW and Noell Consulting Group shared market analysis information and reviewed discussion topics while participants shared ideas and feedback related to parks and transportation as well as what kinds of uses and buildings might make for good additions to the Town Center and Old Town areas.
Soul Asylum to rock wing fest
The wings aren't the only things that will be flavorful at Suwanee's August Concert & Wing Festival on August 8. Soul Asylum will serve up a tangy musical performance, especially if you came of age during the late '80s/early '90s alternative rock/grunge era.
After forming in Minneapolis in 1981, Soul Asylum, known for its first two years as Loud Fast Rules, was a frontrunner of American college rock and garnered a reputation as the country's best live band. Mid-1980s audiences were struck, according to Soul Asylum's Wikipedia article, by "the band's onstage swagger, scruffy Midwestern appearance, and extremely loud, frenetic sound – mixing tuneful but unrestrained punk, hardcore 1970s rock, country, and self-effacing kitsch." The article goes on to quote an early reviewer's description of the band's sound as "some unholy mix of Kiss and Hank Williams thrown under the wheels of a runaway train."
Appropriately, "Runaway Train," from Soul Asylum's sixth album, Grave Dancers Union, released in 1992, became the band's biggest hit, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other hits include "Somebody to Shove," "Black Gold," and "Misery."
Suwanee's August Concert and Wing Festival will begin at 5 p.m. at Town Center Park. As headline performer, Soul Asylum will take the stage around 8 p.m.
City begins FY2016 with $14.8 million budget
At its June 23 meeting, Suwanee City Council approved a $14.8 million operating budget for fiscal year 2016, which began July 1. This budget represents a 9.2% increase over the $13.6 million budget adopted by the City last year.
The adopted 2016 budget assumes that the City's millage rate will remain at its current level of 4.93 mills; no tax rate increases are anticipated. The millage rate is scheduled to be adopted by City Council in August.
Suwanee's $14,843,060 FY2016 budget includes $45,000 in continued funding for the City's downtown and public art master plans; three new positions and two position upgrades; a maximum 4% pay-for-performance salary increase for staff; and just over $763,000 for capital expenditures that include seven replacement vehicles for the police department and other personnel, two mowers and a chipper, and police dispatch console upgrades and other equipment. Health insurance expenses increased by 11 percent; the City will cover approximately two-thirds of that increase with employees picking up the rest.
The budget also includes Suwanee's annual debt payment for bonds used to construct City Hall and several parks. That payment in FY2016 will be about $1.6 million.
Glass art exhibit sparkles at City Hall
Sculptures by Atlanta artist Hans Godo Fräbel, considered one of the founding fathers of modern flame glass art, are on exhibit at Suwanee City Hall through September 1.
The Seven Sins and Virtues exhibit, sponsored by the North Gwinnett Arts Association, represents the first time that all 14 sculptures in this collection have been publicly displayed simultaneously. The exhibit also features a few additional pieces, including one from Fräbel's Botanical Garden series. The artworks are displayed on both the first and second floors of City Hall and will be accessible for public viewing from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA) is sponsoring the exhibit and will host an opening reception and artist's presentation on Thursday, June 25. The reception begins at 5 p.m. at City Hall; Fräbel, who is an NGAA member, will discuss his training and career as a scientific glassblower-turned-artist and the technique of flamework in the second-floor City Council Chambers beginning at 7 p.m. Both the reception and presentation are open to the public.
Fräbel art pieces can be found in public and private collections in more than 80 countries worldwide. Two of Fräbel's most famous works are Hammer and Nails, which was first exhibited in 1979 at the New Glass Art Exhibition at the Corning Museum of Glass in upstate New York, and the playful, cavorting clowns that were part of the Absolut Vodka advertising campaign in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Broadway with a bang, bang
This year's Broadway in the Park production is coming in with a bang, bang. Suwanee Performing Arts will present a timeless tale ideal for the whole family when it performs Ian Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on the Town Center stage Friday and Saturday, July 24 and 25. Performances begin at 7 p.m. each night.
Presented by a mostly high school cast, the story follows the adventures of eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts and his family as they travel about in their spectacular, remodeled old car. The family encounters the evil Baron Bomburst, a child-hating dictator who wants to steal Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for himself.
"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a fun story for all ages," says Director and Production Coordinator Patty Etherton. "No matter who you are, you're going to love this show."
A middle school cast will open each evening with The Finish Line, an original one-act musical whose story ends at the 1910 Grand Prix, which is where Chitty Chitty Bang Bang begins.
Admission is free, but reserved premium seating and "sitting room only" seating near the front of stage are available for a tax-deductible donation to Suwanee Performing Arts. Call 678-482-6333.
'Dancer XX' by Jack Howard-Potter
The 2015-17 Suwanee SculpTour, a walkable public art exhibit in and around Town Center, is bringing more – in some cases, a lot more – than ever before.
- This, Suwanee's fourth SculpTour exhibit, features more sculptures than ever: 17.
- It includes more local artists: Six of the 15 artists represented are from Georgia; other artists are from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and New York City.
- Dancer XX, a 20-foot tall galvanized and powder-coated steel sculpture created by Jack Howard-Potter, is the single heaviest sculpture to ever be included in a SculpTour exhibit. Weighing in at 2,700 pounds, this kinetic sculpture of a male figure, who stands on one leg with his arms raised and holding a long piece of fabric, rotates with the wind.
The 2015-17 exhibit is weighty not only in poundage. While several pieces represent the forest canopy and sunflowers or a variety of animals – birds of prey, cows, horses, goats, and birds in flight – several pieces reflect the artists' perception of heavy topics. Some of the themes addressed include the pain of love, looking forward optimistically while absorbing losses of the past, unattainable success, notable attributes of friendship, parent-child relationships, the dichotomy of science and faith, and the concept of awareness. See a list of 2015-17 SculpTour artworks.
A walkable public art encounter, Suwanee SculpTour is a program of the Public Arts Commission. The new exhibit will be on display through March 2017.
'Friends' by Nnamdi Okonkwo
2015-17 Suwanee SculpTour Artworks & Artists
Ball and the Red Staircase by Adam Walls – Hope Mills, NC
BRD by Michael Dillon – Milton, GA
Capacious by Isaac Duncan – Chattanooga, TN
Carry Forward by Joey Manson – Central, SC
Cascade by Gregory Johnson – Cumming, GA
Corey by Jonathan Bowling – Greenville, NC
Cow on a Horse by Jim Collins – Signal Mountain, TN
Dancer XX by Jack Howard-Potter – New York, NY
Faith by Adam Walls – Hope Mills, NC
Father & Son by Adam Walls – Hope Mills, NC
Friends by Nnamdi Okonkwo – Fayetteville, GA
The Herd by Phil Proctor – Atlanta, GA
Love Hurts by Lee Benson – Jackson, TN
Oak Leaf Horizon by Jim Gallucci – Greensboro, NC
Sunflower Gate by Andrew T. Crawford – Atlanta, GA
Taking Flight by Jennifer Freeman – Duluth, GA
Three Muses by Hanna Jubran – Grimesland, NC
Movies under the stars
The theme for the two movies to be shown when Movies Under the Stars returns to Town Center Park on Saturday, July 18, is "out of this world" – literally. Both movies have a space theme.
The recently released Home, an animated film about an alien on the run from his own people, will be shown at 7 p.m. The PG film features the voices of Jim Parsons, Rihanna, and Steve Martin. On RottenTomatoes.com, Bilge Ebiri with New York Magazine/Vulture said: "A surprisingly moving tale of friendship and family, dressed up as an adorably frivolous sci-fi comedy."
The second feature will be Galaxy Quest, a 1999 film starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman that received a 90 percent "fresh" rating on RottenTomatoes.com. "Boldly going where few parodies have gone before" [Kevin Courrier with Globe and Mail], the film follows adventures of the alumni cast of a space opera television series. The movie is rated PG for some action violence, mild language, and sensuality.
The movies are free and open to the public. Bring chairs, blankets, and snacks. No alcohol may be brought into the park, but food and beverages, including beer and wine, may be purchased from Town Center merchants.
2015 Snap Suwanee winners
Suwanee appears fun, outdoorsy, artsy, and snowy in the dozen winning photographs that comprise the 2015 Snap Suwanee exhibit currently on display at City Hall.
Sixty entries were received for this year's annual community photo competition. The winning photographs will be on display until February 2016.
"Snap Suwanee has become one of the City's favorite community engagement projects," says Public Information Officer Lynne DeWilde. "It's always fun to see what strikes our photographers as noteworthy from year to year. This year's winning photos capture moments one doesn't see every day in Suwanee – from a hot air balloon in Town Center to snow to a paddleboarder on the Chattahoochee. They also capture those moments that are more ubiquitous, including folks interacting with public art and utilizing Suwanee parks as backdrops."
Enjoy a few 2015 Snap Suwanee winning photographs in this online slideshow, but stop by City Hall to see and appreciate all of the photos.