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Quinlan unveils its latest art piece: the Q
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Amanda Shelnutt, far left, and Nairika Kotwal Cornett, far right, unveil the new sculpture outside of the Quinlan Visual Arts Center on Thursday, Sept. 5. The sculpture was made by Gregory Johnson and funded with private donations. Shelnutt, the outgoing director of the arts center, said she considers the project her swan song. - photo by Nick Bowman

There’s no missing the Quinlan by now — just look for the Q.

The Quinlan Visual Arts Center unveiled its latest public art display on Thursday, Sept. 5: a large, stainless steel Q standing between the arts center and Green Street.

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Donors and board members at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center gather on Thursday, Sept. 5, around the new stainless steel sculpture by Green Street. - photo by Nick Bowman

The sculpture was made by well known North Georgia artist Gregory Johnson, and it was funded with private donations. The steel Q matches the Quinlan’s logo designed about a decade ago by Tina Carlson.

It was good timing for the Quinlan, which is welcoming Nairika Kotwal Cornett as its new executive director. She’s taking over from Amanda Shelnutt, who is leaving her full-time position to start her own fine art consulting business. She’ll stay on part time with the arts center.

“I think Amanda has really primed it for its next stage of growth,” Cornett said on Thursday.

Shelnutt said after the unveiling that she considers the Green Street Q her swan song.

“It was really something that we wanted to do — I had been very active on the public art committee and seeing the things that had been brought to Green Street — and I just wanted to do something cool,” Shelnutt said. “It was before I had even decided that my time here was ending. It just all was very fortuitous.”

Fortune can be funny sometimes: Hurricane Irma, which darkened and battered Hall County and North Georgia in 2017, was the trigger for the project.

“There was a tree that fell, and it missed everything. It didn’t hit anything here, here or there,” Shelnutt said, gesturing to the Quinlan’s main gallery space, its parking lot and Green Street. 

After some conversation about whether to replace the fallen tree, it was decided to mark the space with the Q.

“Sometimes people are like, ‘Well, we don’t know where you are on Green Street.’ I think now they will,” Shelnutt said.

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Amanda Shelnutt, left, and Nairika Kotwal Cornett stand behind the new stainless steel Q sculpture that was unveiled at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center on Thursday, Sept. 5. - photo by Nick Bowman