Why This Matters: Public art is our opportunity to write many narratives into one overarching story of this place we call home.
By Bernie Petit
From traffic cones and road closures to towering cranes, scaffolding and workers in hard hats, it’s difficult to miss all of the construction happening in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
The work signals that our city and county are growing – and so too is the public art collection.
Both the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have ordinances appropriating 1 percent of eligible capital improvement project funds for public art. ASC manages the public art programs for the city, county and Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
ASC’s vital role in public art helps ensure that artwork enhances our public spaces and are integral to urban and economic development.
This is evident with the new public artworks that will pop up across Charlotte-Mecklenburg in the coming months and years. Here’s a sneak peek at six of them – and why we’re excited.
Artist: Christian Moeller
Expected Completion: Installed February 2019 and will be visible to travelers when Charlotte Douglas International Airport’s East Terminal expansion debuts this summer
Why We’re Excited: “Loops” is a stunning example of how science and technology can influence art. The artwork is inspired by aircraft holding patterns created by jet planes, which appear as white vapor trails in the skies around airports. It functions as a focal point for the airport’s East Terminal expansion, which will include a food court, baggage handling area, new escalators and more. It consists of two interacting curvilinear objects animated by a slow and steady rotation that is accomplished with the help of electric motors mechanically integrated into the work’s support structure.
“Pillars of Dreams”
Artist: Marc Fornes/THEVERYMANY
Expected Completion: March 2019
Why We’re Excited: The sculptural work is the result of the multi-year effort to rehabilitate the old Freedom Mall into viable office space for Mecklenburg County. Plus it’s the second work completed by Fornes in Charlotte within a year’s time – his “Wanderwall,” an 18,000 square foot sculpture at NOVEL Stonewall Station and visible from I-277 and South End, was completed in July 2018. “Pillars of Dreams” will provide an experiential icon on the plaza of the Valerie C. Woodard Center in Charlotte. Its cloud-like canopy resolves into seating, establishing a public gathering space for visitors and staff.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport Concourses A & B Murals
Artists: Ráed Al-Rawi, Nico Amortegui, Nellie Ashford, Jonathan Grauel and Ben Premeaux
Expected Completion: Spring 2019.
Why We’re Excited: Five local artists representing diverse cultural backgrounds and working in a variety of media will soon have their work seen by local, national and international travelers at the airport. The selected artists have created original artworks that will be digitally reproduced to scale and installed on select “hold room” walls.
Artist: Michele Tejuola Turner
Expected Completion: Winter 2019
Why We’re Excited: Waymer Gym was part of the historic Torrence-Lytle School, established in 1937 as the first high school for African-American students in northern Mecklenburg County. The gym is being renovated and restored as a community center. Turner’s approach is to integrate artwork into the new railings for the gym. “Community,” her rail artwork, pays tribute to significant community members, symbols and structures relevant to the school and the generations of students it impacted.
Five Points Plaza and West Trade Street
Artists: Stacy Utley, David Wilson and Edwin Harris
Expected Completion: Fall 2020
Why We’re Excited: This project is exciting because of its potential to tell the story of Charlotte’s Historic West End through the voices of the people who live there and the vision of an artist team that will be informed by their history and experiences. Artwork for the new Five Point Plaza – west of uptown at the convergence of Beatties Ford Road, Fifth, West Trade and State streets and the Rozzelles Ferry intersection – will reference the community’s history. The West Trade artwork will enhance the streetscape and link to the existing gateway public artwork (“Passing Through Light” by Erwin Redl) at the underpass.
North County Regional Library
Artist: Martha Clippinger
Expected Completion: Summer 2019
Why We’re Excited: Clippinger uses color as a structural element in her work. Her public art for the renovated North County library will create a colorful mural that enlivens the space. ASC is hosting a Community Engagement Workshop with the artist from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library – Cornelius (21105 Catawba Ave.). The hands-on collage session will provide participants with the chance to consider the artwork’s color palette. Learnings from the event will inform the final artwork.