Why This Matters: ASC and Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation have worked collaboratively to enhance public spaces throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg with artworks that connect to the surrounding communities.
A young child climbs atop “Life,” a public artwork inspired by the okra plants found in the gardens of early Reid Park residents. It’s an example of artwork found at many Mecklenburg County parks.
By Bernie Petit
Whether you’re looking to take advantage of the weather or wanting to get some exercise, there are plenty of reasons to check out the wonderful array of parks and recreation centers we have in Mecklenburg County.
One of our favorite reasons just happens to be the public artwork found at many of them.
Over the years, ASC and Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation have worked collaboratively to enhance public spaces throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg with artworks that connect to the surrounding communities.
“Origins,” a gateway artwork at the Reid Neighborhood Park entrance, honors the Reid Park neighborhood’s founding leaders Amay James and Ross Reid.
“Community Spring,” made from three boulders, is inspired by the neighborhood’s spring, street patterns and quilting tradition, while “Life” (pictured at the top) is inspired by the okra plants found in the gardens of early neighborhood residents.
The most recent additions to Park and Recreation facilities are “Spiral Odyssey” by Richard Hunt and “Stream” by Marc Moulton.
“Spiral Odyssey” was installed in May at Romare Bearden Park in uptown Charlotte. Hunt, a contemporary of park namesake Romare Bearden, references Bearden’s work and arts activism in the public artwork.
“Stream,” installed in June, is at the new Double Oaks Aquatic Center on Statesville Avenue in Charlotte. Inspired by the geometry of poured water, the artwork presents a rhythmic flow of aquatic imagery.
Double Oaks isn’t the only aquatic center with public art. The artwork integrated into Ray’s Splash Planet and surrounding greenspace connects the popular recreation center to Charlotte’s Third Ward neighborhood. North Carolina artist Betsy Towns carved images of fauna and flora found in the community into terra cotta bricks and incorporated them in benches, planters, walkways, murals, doorways and fountains.
Out at the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex in Matthews, “Time Further Out” by Shaun Cassidy and Tom Stanley greets visitors. The artwork references time, the sun, the moon and movement – all of which can impact the sports played on the recreation center’s fields.
More functional public artwork is found at Reedy Creek Park, where the artistic benches “Flat Rock Pine” by J. Paul Sires provide opportunities to rest and enjoy nature.
Closer to uptown Charlotte, Masayuki Nagase’s “Aquifer” makes a dramatic impression along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway in Midtown. From the mosaics of stream-rounded pebbles and stone medallions that surround two plazas to the sculpted boulders and benches, the artwork brings awareness to the natural environment as one travels along the greenway.
Also along the greenway at Midtown Park is “Sight Unseen” by Po Shu Wang and Louise Bertelsen. The artwork, intended to make public art accessible to the sight-impaired, features a modified music box which plays Braille letters placed on a music staff to create notes. When the music box within the art is moved, visitors experience a unique music.
By no means is this an all-inclusive list of artworks found at Mecklenburg County parks, recreation centers and greenspaces. If we missed one of your favorites, let us know on Twitter or Instagram @ASCCharlotte.