By David Fowler
Charlotte is a city that is rich in history, unique culture, civic pride, and diverse communities. There is no better way to experience this than the Public Art Walking Tour. To get started, simply download the self-guided walking tour podcast and map at ArtsandScience.org; go to the Programs & Services tab, choose Public Art and scroll over and down to Public Art Walking Tour. Each location on the map has one or more works of public art spread out across the city. Starting at the Carillon Building at the corner of Trade and 4th streets, you are free to take the tour at your own pace as you discover Charlotte in a whole new way.
Public art is a representation of not only the city and its history, but also its people and communities. It reminds us where we come from and livens up our city spaces. From sculptures and paintings to fountains and benches, Charlotte is fortunate to enjoy a vibrant, and still growing, collection of public art that tells its story. Raymond Kaskey’s Sculptures on the Square (1994) at the corner of Trade and Tryon is one of the most recognizable pieces of public art in Charlotte. This piece depicts the past, present, and future of the city represented by four sculpted pillars: Commerce, Industry, Transportation, and Future. Larry Kirkland’s The Writer’s Desk (2005) is a sculpture that pays homage to the city’s newspaper, The Charlotte Observer, and its former publisher Rolfe Niell, whose quotes adorn the piece. These sculptures are perfect examples of the cultural and historical relationship between the pieces and the city.
The Arts & Science Council recognizes the potential of art to create livable cities, enhance neighborhoods, educate people, and increase community pride among citizens. Thanks to Mecklenburg County ordinances that allot one percent of eligible project funds to public art, public works of cultural significance will continue to be a staple in the Charlotte area.
Whether you are new to the city, or have lived in the area long enough to call yourself a native, the walking tour of Uptown Charlotte will change the way you think about the city, particularly from a cultural standpoint.