Building a destination: Nicaraguan artist assists with project
By Taylor J. Hale
We continue our series on the various aspects of Stevens Point’s Cultural Commons, leading up to the spring grand opening of what organizers hope to become a destination location.
STEVENS POINT – Nicaraguan artist Johnny José Garcia Chamorro visited Stevens Point to help with the Cultural Commons project. The artists created an original sculpture installation for the commons, which organizers plan to open this spring.
The piece represents the city’s relationship with its sister city, Estelí, Nicaragua. The Wisconsin Nicaragua Partners (WNP) program sponsored Garcia’s trip.
“The sculpture for the Cultural Commons park is a representation of the brotherhood between the City of Estelí and the City of Stevens Point,” Garcia said. “The City of Estelí is known as ‘the diamond of the Segovia,’ for its natural wealth and cultural wealth. We have decided to represent the city as a diamond, but pink in illusion of one of its riches, such as the stone of San Juan de Limay, that is why the sculpture has that representative color. The diamond has six sides, and on each side, it has painted those natural riches of Estelí and some of Stevens Point as part of the [intertwining] between both cities.”
Garcia’s visit lasted from Sept. 14 to Oct. 6. He stayed with Stevens Point locals Diane Bywaters and Guillermo Penafiel. Bywaters is the former chair of the UW-Stevens Point Department of Art and Design.
“It was a real joy and challenge working with Johnny,” Bywaters said. “The main challenge was not knowing his language, but we had the common language of art, so through drawing, we were able to communicate things regarding his exciting sculpture piece.”
Garcia is from Granada, Nicaragua. His artwork has been displayed in Mexico, Canada, Spain, Germany, and other international venues. The artist has been to Wisconsin twice before through WNP programming, once in 1992, and later in 2001. Bywaters also hosted his 2001 visit.
Garcia’s project is still unassembled — it will be finalized before its installation in 2020. The artist hopes to return to Stevens Point.
“I hope to return, and I hope it will be soon to be always (sic) part of this beautiful project,” Garcia said.