By Bernie Petit
The public part of “public art” can refer to more than the accessible location.
It often references the multitude of voices involved in the public art process.
For Lake Norman artist Dana Gingras, who is creating artwork for the East Charlotte neighborhood of Grove Park, the chorus included representatives from the neighborhood association, the city and the state department of transportation.
“Taking everybody’s viewpoint into consideration and still producing something that I’m proud of and that is visually stimulating presented challenges but also had me thinking in different ways” Gingras said.
“I always explain to people, it’s a lot of inspiration but it’s also a lot of careful planning and following the guidelines that were set forth.”
But instead of considering rules and regulations to be limiting, Gingras used them as motivation to push himself creatively.
The result is a stunning corten steel and stainless steel sculpture titled Ascension, a piece that is both a subtle nod to Grove Park’s mining history and to the area’s forward progress.
The artwork will be installed near the intersection of W.T. Harris Boulevard and North Sharon Amity Road this month as part of the Neighborhoods in Creative pARTnership initiative launched by the City of Charlotte, the Public Art Commission and ASC.
“The neighborhood wanted something that connected the past to the future and something that rose up and provided a sense of hope,” he said. “I wanted to make it accessible and appreciated by a broad spectrum.”
In addition to bringing public art to areas without city-sponsored work, the creative partnership initiative also intended to help local artists build their skills in the realm of public art.
So in addition to being personally rewarding, it was a professional development opportunity as well, Gingras said.
“Being able to deal with so many different agencies was a good learning experience,” he said. “The physical build was the easiest part, that’s what I’ve spent 20 years doing. A lot of the growth was on the management side and learning how it affects the people in the community also.”
It led to the piece evolving into something bigger than the artist initially imagined.
“To see how excited the community was about it and to hear all of the ideas they had – and they were all over the board – since they were so excited, it made me more excited,” he said. “I hope it brings more interest to the area and that it gets more people excited about the area.”
Through the Neighborhoods in Creative pARTnership initiative, intended to bring more neighborhood-based public art to the city, the Charlotte neighborhoods of Elizabeth, Grove Park, Reid Park, Sedgefield and the Shamrock Drive Corridor will receive new public artworks.