Public invited to choose public art for North Shore

Authored By Mary Barnett

‘Nesting Pair’ by Ron Gard of Chicago will be made with corten steel and stand 14 feet high and 29 feet wide. ‘These two beings are really meant to be stewards of this grassy corner. They are bonded to each other in a partnership, hence u2018Nesting Pair.u2019 This translates to the community and visitors at large to say this is a place to build your nest, to put down roots, a great place to live and work,’ Gard wrote in his proposal. (Photo: Public Art Chattanooga)

This weekend, anyone visiting the North Shore will be given an opportunity to help select a permanent sculpture that will be installed this fall on the grassy corner in front of the Walgreens on Frazier Avenue.

Three pieces of original art (pictured as digitally enhanced photos on the right) have already been chosen as the top finalists from more than 75 submissions received by Public Art Chattanooga from artists all over the United States.

“Drop” by Clearwater, Fla., artists Lin and Gus Ocampasilva will be made with painted aluminum and stand 12 feet high by 7.5 feet wide. ‘Water is a very important element in the life of the Chattanooga residents and its visitors. Many of the outdoor activities are inspired by the beautiful Tennessee River that surrounds the town and gives identity to the city. u2018Dropu2019 is iconic, colorful and engages the community,’ the artists wrote in their proposal. (Photo: Public Art Chattanooga)

Artists were asked to submit ideas that would be created specifically for the corner in North Chattanooga while representing the area’s spirit of unity, diversity, “growth, transformation and revitalization,” as well as function as an iconic gateway piece.

“The public art committee … wants this piece of public art to celebrate the diversity and unique sense of community in our neighborhood,” according to a press release.

The public will be choosing from the finalists and casting votes for their favorite. The art with the most votes will be commissioned, created, then installed later this year.

“This project is a great example of community-driven public art,” PAC’s Elizabeth Carriger said in an email.

The entire process began nearly two years ago when the North Shore Public Art Committee formed and began fundraising.  Pairing numerous private donations with a matching grant from Lyndhurst Foundation’s Art in the Neighborhoods Program, the group was able to raise $30,000 for the project, according to Carriger.

“Chattanooga Music Man” by James Simon of Pittsburgh will be created out of concrete and stand 8 feet high and 4 feet wide. ‘The fiddler ties into Chattanooga’s rich music and working-class culture, both past and present. The music composition creates a universal ambiance of remembrance of times past, joy for the present and future,’ Simon said in his proposal. (Photo: Public Art Chattanooga)

The foundation’s grant program provides money to each of the city’s council districts “to acquire public art for neighborhoods and involve neighborhood groups in the selection process,” according to PAC’s website.

The program offers up to $7,500 per district with 80 percent matched dollar-for-dollar with private funds raised by citizens in each district, and the remaining 20 percent comes from the public art program.

A celebration to kick off the voting will take place on the North Shore on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in and around the North Shore Fellowship parking area on Woodland Avenue near the future site of the new sculpture installation.

The All Things North Shore event is a collaboration between PAC and the North Shore Fellowship congregation, an effort that volunteer Kathryn Grant said has been “very grassroots.”

“The church actually had a donation in honor of someone with the purpose of doing an arts festival,” Grant said.

Helping fuel the momentum to involve the community in the selection of the neighborhood’s permanent sculpture was the perfect use of the arts-centered endowed funds, according to Grant.

Visitors who vote for their favorite sculpture will receive an “I voted” sticker to show shop owners along Frazier Avenue and receive discounts at nearly 30 different shops.

Live music will be provided by the Folk School of Chattanooga, featuring traditional Irish and old-time music, as well as the school’s string band.

“Kid zones” have been located inside several of the shops, offering a variety of hands-on activities such as origami, face painting, friendship bracelets, tissue flowers and a handprint community mural.

After this weekend, anyone interested in casting their vote for one of the sculptures will have until June 15 to “like” their favorite on Facebook via the PAC group page or cast a paper ballot inside one of the Frazier Avenue shops and restaurants.

Updated @ 9:13 a.m. on 05/31/12 for clarity.