Greg Johnson hopes that when people pass by the massive metal peach that is so shiny and smooth it reflects their face back to them that they look upward and find inspiration. They’ll certainly have to look up.
Johnson, an artist and sculptor famous throughout Forsyth County, across Georgia and worldwide for both his bronze statues and modern metal marvels, will soon add another piece to his portfolio, and this one is his largest yet. He is nearing completion of a 27-foot peach that is being commissioned to be placed in Atlanta this fall.
Who commissioned it, for how much and where exactly in Atlanta it is going cannot be released yet, but Johnson said the piece is the largest and most complicated project he has ever attempted.
“Metal has a mind of its own, and it wants to do what it wants to do,” he said. “[But it can also be] more simplistic. I like that. I like simple. I like elegant. I like modern. I like forward-thinking. I like things that look like they’re in motion. And, most of all, I like things that when people walk up to them they go, ‘Well, that reminds me of…,’ and you never saw that in the piece.”
Johnson has his bronze work, the medium he worked in for the longest period of his career, all over Forsyth County, including one in front of each government building in downtown Cumming, at Fowler Park and at the Sawnee Mountain Preserve.
He also has 27 pieces in 17 counties in Georgia and 40 in other states and seven countries.
This peach, he said, will be the most visible.
“We’ve got projects where 125,000 people pass by them every day.”
The seed to build a peach for Atlanta and for Georgia was planted two years ago, sprouting when Johnson signed the contract and growing to taller and taller heights with each round of sanding, each welding spark.
“I hope people will love it and embrace it. That it will become iconic, it will be a symbol, people will talk about it, say, ‘Have you seen the giant peach?’” he said. “With all my artwork, I want it to be an inspiration. I want it to bring a smile to your face. I want it to have the wow-factor where you round the corner and you go, ‘My gosh, look at that.’
“And to distract people long enough for them to come see an object of beauty, maybe get a feeling of harmony and beauty, a sense of excitement, a giggle. That to me is the nicest compliment people can pay an artist.”