By the time of Romare Bearden’s 102nd birthday next September, a new park, named in honor of the native Charlottean and famous artist, will grace uptown’s Third Ward neighborhood. The 5.2 acre park, under construction now and scheduled to open in Spring 2013, will feature paths, grassy plazas, a fountain and public art.
The Public Art Commission, managed by ASC, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Park and Recreation will announce next week that renowned African-American sculptor Richard Hunt has been commissioned as the artist for the park.
“We are thrilled to have an artist of Richard’s caliber pay homage to Romare Bearden,” said Public Art Commission Chair Sabrina Brown. “This new piece of public art will be a landmark in Charlotte and a brilliant centerpiece for the park.”
Hunt’s sculpture, while still in the design phase, will be made of welded stainless steel, and is intended to create a sculptured collage containing references to Bearden’s artistic practice, traditions and inspirations. Within the referential frame of Bearden’s life, the sculpture conjures up the Eiffel Tower, county churches, and roots in land and water associations.
“Together I hope the material of the sculpture, its craftsmanship, its associative possibilities and its lively presence make my homage to Romare Bearden a diversion of both substance and delight to visitors to Romare Bearden Park,” Hunt said.
A Chicago based artist, Hunt began his career in 1955 as a student at the Art Institute of Chicago. His first large-scale public art commission came in 1967. In the 45 years since, Hunt has received more than 100 commissions across the United States, and has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Ford and Tamarind Fellowships.
He was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as one of the first artists to the governing board of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2009, Hunt was the recipient of the International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Hunt’s artwork is displayed in museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the National Museum of Israel in Jerusalem. Charlotte’s Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts is home to one of Hunt’s sculptural pieces.
“As a friend and contemporary of Romare Bearden, having Richard Hunt’s work in the park is a special honor,” said Jim Garges, director of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department.
Hunt and Bearden share the distinction of being the first two African-American artists to have solo exhibitions at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The two exhibited at the museum in 1971.
Funding for the artwork was made possible through Mecklenburg County’s 1% for Art Ordinance, contributions from Duke Energy, as well as ASC’s board of directors in honor of the ASC’s 50th anniversary, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and North Carolina Arts Council.