Giant robot head sculpture coming to Five Points as public


COLUMBIA — What does Hootie & the Blowfish have in common with a giant robot? Soon both will have a spot in Columbia’s Five Points area.

With city approval to place it near the fountain at the end of Saluda Avenue, the 10-foot-tall robot head is set to join several other sculptures in the Five Points district in October, representing the latest in its public arts project. 

While ’50s-style robot heads are scattered around Columbia — two sit outside Studio 2LR on North Main Street, and Green Eyes peeks out of the ground in the Vista — the one in Five Points will be more elaborate, and “more jazzy” than those, artist Clark Ellefson said.

To meld the robot head with Five Points’ culture, the bearded giant will be wearing headphones and have an infinity mirror on the back, making it a perfect photo op for visitors, said Caitlin Bright, executive director of 701 Contemporary Art and a member of the Five Points Association board.

The plan is to unveil it during JerryFest, a festival of primarily Grateful Dead music dedicated to Jerry Garcia. 

Five Points Association members saw the robot heads and the sense of wonder they evoked, Bright said.

“We thought that (robot head) would be really awesome to have in Five Points in regards to the creativity of Five Points, the music culture of Five Points,” Bright said. 

Eventually, the robot — which will get its name through a community contest — will also be part of a larger “musical scavenger hunt” through Five Points, in which people can scan QR codes displayed in the area to download music by longtime Columbia staples, such as Hootie & the Blowfish, as well as up-and-coming artists. 

“We’re really excited about this project,” Bright said. “We’re going full throttle.”

The robot sculpture will join a 17-foot-tall tribute to Hootie & the Blowfish, which got its start playing in Five Points, and the Hubbell, the 15,000-pound brick wheel on the other end of Saluda Avenue.

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