For many people driving quickly down South Trade Street, they may have seen or glanced at the nearly eight-foot metal heart sculpture off the sidewalk at the front of Stumptown Park.
Known as “PDA or Public Display of Affection,” the piece was loaned to the town in 2013 by philanthropist, skateboarder, and sculptor, Tom Risser. Should someone choose to buy it, the price is $5000.
“I’ve been placing little heart-symbols in my work for 15 years,” said Risser.
This message was amplified nearly three years ago when he suffered a massive heart attack and had quintuple by-pass surgery. “I always put heart in my art,” he said.
Owner of US Bottlers Machinery Company, a Charlotte-based specialized packaging company, nearly all of the materials he uses for his artwork are left-over metals from his company - refurbished and repurposed scrap stainless steel. He sees his contribution as “just putting (in) my labor and imagination for it.”
A philosophical and intentioned man, Risser feels strongly about the work he does: “art itself is just an escape, a therapy – rehab,” and the places his art lands on: “I love the fact that Matthews is willing to put art out in public space…..Let’s take and put art (out) for public viewing.”
Risser’s other artistic contribution to Matthews is the small horse sculpture in the town’s pocket park located on Old 51 near Town Hall – a memorial to Kay Plyler, a deceased town employee.