After two years of planning and behind-the-scenes work, the city of Corbin’s first public art project is now on display – a tribute to the railroad industry which has been such a large part of the town’s past and present.
Fifteen poly-resin trains, decorated by local artists, officially went on display Saturday in downtown Corbin. The trains, located in what Corbin Main Street Manager Sharae Myers is calling a "sculpture garden" on an empty lot at the corner of Main and Monroe Streets, are collectively called "Monuments of Art, Spirit and Heritage."
"I want to thank everyone that participated for making this happen," Myers told the crowd of about 50 who were on hand for the unveiling. "It has just been incredible."
Each of the artists stood near the trains they decorated as dark plastic was pulled off them. The designs ran the gamut.
Students from Central Elementary School decorated a train with flags from around the world. A group of retired L&N Railroad employees living at Heritage Nursing Home decorated their train with newspaper clippings and photographs all related to the local railroad industry.
Another celebrated the sports achievements of Corbin Schools.
Local artist Greg Razmus, co-owner of Tri-County Cineplex, made his train a tribute to the area’s past movie theaters. It is made to look like a block of chocolate with marshmallow like puffs of smoke.
Myers first hatched the idea for the project in 2007, but was denied $26,000 to carry it out by the town’s Tourism Commission. The project was finally carried out with a $5,000 donation from CSX, $5,000 in funding from the City of Corbin and an additional $5,000 from private donations.
"At the very first, I was really apprehensive about it," said Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney, on hand for Saturday’s unveiling. "I did not really know what they would look like or how big they would be. After we got into the project and I got to see one fully assembled, it kind of changed my whole perspective of it. I think it is a neat thing for downtown Corbin."
Storyboards facing Monroe Street give a bio of each artist and show which train they are responsible for decorating. Myers said Amanda Rhinehart, of Hinkle Printing, spent upwards of 200 hours on the storyboards and called her one of the "unsung heroes" of the project. The city’s Public Works Department and CSX were named unsung heroes as well.
Local resident Shelly Goldbloom said she came to the unveiling out of curiosity, and said the final result could be a real tourist attraction for Corbin.
"I’m so thrilled to see Corbin doing something like this. The talent is incredible here," Goldbloom said. "I know when I go to small communities if I find something interesting I mark it on a map and tell people about it. I think that’s what will happen here. This is something people would stop in Corbin to see. When we have out of town visitors, it is something we will be proud to show them."
One additional train is not completed yet, Myers said. It is being decorated with stained glass and could not be completed in time for the unveiling. It should be on display in the next few weeks.
All the trains will remain on display for about a year. They will then be sold at auction to benefit the Main Street Program.