DANSVILLE — The first Dansville Public Arts meeting was held Monday regarding the upcoming Inspirational Trail.


On March 4, members of the community were invited to attend and share thoughts on the Inspirational Trail scheduled for May 2020. In this meeting hosted by Mayor Peter Vogt and Louise Wadsworth, Livingston County Downtown Development coordinator, members were encouraged to share ideas on what kind of permanent and temporary art they want to see on downtown. Members were also encouraged to share ideas on where to go outside of Main Street such as the Dansville Area Historical Society, Battle Street Brewery, and Clara Barton House.


The Inspirational Trail will encompass a 90 mile loop throughout nine downtowns in Livingston County. There will be about 100 installations that will include a word or phrase that is uplifting and inspirational. The permanent art will be benches, murals, and sculptures. The temporary art will be storefront installations that will last about three weeks.


The start up phase for the temporary art is May 2019 to see how the storefronts handle the artistic ideas.


Dansville will be responsible for managing locations of artworks, designing the art while keeping the historical and cultural themes, and will act as a local liaison during the event.


There are four elements for creative insights in this project: art and culture, diverse partnerships, shaping the social and physical character of the town, and spur economic development.


There will be certain resources available through this project — Genesee Valley BOCES metal trade class will create one bench for each town, downtown enhancement grants which now include public artwork on the buildings, an NEA grant that will handle $150,000 for the whole project, extensive marketing until May 2020, GVCA grant funding for September 2020, and donations and sponsorships.


Wadsworth has already sat with Caledonia, Mount Morris, and Nunda to hear what their plans are for the downtown trail. Mount Morris already has a patriotic theme in mind for a wall mural on Main Street. Caledonia is planning on a fishing and country type theme.


It was suggested that Dansville combine its health and wellness with its strong history. There is an historic walking trail on the way for Dogwood Festival. It will have 10 stops, and this can be downloaded onto your smartphone with the Village of Dansville App. On this App you will have an audio option to explain the stop, and a written transcript to talk about the significance of each stop.


The idea to combine the history walking tour and the inspirational trail would highlight all aspects of the community.


Wadsworth explained the significance of the new Inspirational trail, and how it would be the first of its kind in the region.


“The county is behind this 100 percent. We want to bring tourism to the county. We want art that inspires, such as murals and sculptures. We will have business owners work on their own storefronts, hire a professional to do it, or have art students do the display. This will be up for the first three weeks of the trail,” Wadsworth said.


The idea of the Inspirational Trail was inspired by an art trail in Wisconsin. Wadsworth mentioned how an App would be used with this trail as well, and perhaps stamps or puzzles along the way.


The most important thing about the trail is that people will interact with the artwork, and post photos on all social media platforms.


“The community art is all about telling the story of the town,” Wadsworth said. “We can find a lot of cool temporary art to show off in the community. We are hoping to have at least two major art pieces in each town.”


Local artist Jeff Swift suggested one major art piece using bricks from the Castle on the Hill. Anyone who grew up in Dansville is very passionate about the Castle on the Hill. Some were even lucky enough to recall its glory days. Swift recalled being able to go inside the castle and explore its beauty in the 1990s.


“I would like to help create a large art piece using the bricks from the Castle on the Hill,” he said. “I like the idea of taking the old, and putting a modern twist on it to make it new. We can make a giant arch that people can walk over. I know it will be very labor intensive, but I think a lot of people in the community would volunteer to help. I would be at the forefront of the project.


“The castle has always been a part of our story. It breaks the hearts of anyone who has grown up in Dansville to talk about what has happened to the castle,” Swift continued. “It was still open to the public in the 1980s. I understand it is dangerous for the public to be up there now, but it was still intact in the 1990s. It is sad that the land has began to reclaim the castle, and it has majorly deteriorated over the years. I loved the grand ballroom in the castle. It was early European art throughout the building.”


Swift said he likes the idea of preserving some of the castle, and making it available for people to touch. He would really like to recreate the bell tower of the castle in some way.


“Everyone still wants to reach out and touch the castle,” he said. “It isn’t enough to just tell the story; we want people to be able to touch history. We want to be tasteful with this project, and not just exploit our history. We have had some highs and deep lows in this town over time, and we want to focus on the highs.”


Wadsworth said that she wants this trail to be more scenic and visual as people travel the nine townships.


“The idea this year is to start with the storefronts just to get the concept out there,” she said. “All of the communities I have talked to are very excited about this so far. I think it will be exciting to see what each storefront does, and the story they chose to tell about their business.”


Some of the highlights that draw people to the town are Dansville Balloon Festival, Dogwood Festival, and Winter in the Village.


The idea is to create a celebration of the hometown, and showcase why people will always come back to their roots.


Swift has been to the big city, and he returned to his hometown roots. He talked about the importance of a small town, and how much it adds to the culture and quality of people.


The next meeting for the Dansville Public Arts is to be determined. Wadsworth is taking all of the information mentioned at the first meeting. She will reach out to artists and historians on this matter.