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Tube Dudes arrive in Greer; O'Shields and daughter win big
In the art world, discerning eyes are trained to evaluate a piece of fine art. When he landed on the arts scene by coincidence in Sarasota, Fla., Scott Gerber realized his aluminum sculptures were different: not fine art, but fun art.

Gerber’s colorful creations all have one thing in common: a huge smile that captures the attention of observers discerning or otherwise. After creating more than 6,000 sculptures since 2010 and shipping them to nearly 50 countries, Gerber is just fine with his creations.

The City of Greer is the first municipality to commission Tube Dudes as a public art project and Gerber was in town on Tuesday to install eight sculptures in locations ranging from Greer City Park to the Greer Police Station. The city holds the rights to commission eight additional sculptures.

Each reflects the area in which it was placed. A shopper walks on Trade Street, a railroad conductor waves in front of the old depot, children toss a ball across the walkway at Kids Planet, and a fireman stands outside the fire station. Then there are the smiles – a reflection of the welcome visitors find across the city.

“If you smile at somebody, it’s probably more contagious than the flu,” Gerber said. “It’s almost impossible to have someone walk down the street and smile at you and not smile back. Just to say the words Tube Dude, it’s hard not to smile.”

It was a broad smile that won Brandi O’Shields and her daughter Brayleigh Hendricks a custom Tube Dude valued at up to $2,000 in a March contest sponsored by Gerber and the City of Greer. Visitors were invited to take a photo with the Giant Dude at the entrance to Greer City Hall. Gerber himself selected the winning photo of Brayleigh standing behind Giant Dude with a huge grin.

Thirty-eight individuals submitted entries during the contest. Brayleigh requested a Tube Dudette scientist and discussed  the finer points of her prize with Gerber during his visit.

“Her great smile really captured what the Dudes are about,” Gerber said. “And she named that statue Silly Dude, which is probably just what I would do seeing this large statue relaxing outside Greer City Hall.”

That sense of whimsy is what Gerber and the city are hoping residents and visitors will take away after viewing Greer’s new “residents.”

“The City of Greer has funded public art for several years and has identified public art as a community priority through our comprehensive plan and in our community master plan,” Greer City Administrator Ed Driggers said. “The Tube Dude project will follow a very successful program initiated through the Partnership for Tomorrow. The downtown train cars project and the Greer Cultural Arts structure at the Cannon Centre have demonstrated that placement of public art is important to a community.”