Surprising Public Art Is All Around

29 Feb

ASC’s Public Art Program views public art as integral to a community’s fabric by recognizing the potential of art to create livable cities, enhance neighborhood identity, strengthen economic development and tourism, educate children and adults and enrich the spirit and pride of its citizens.

Alan Greenspan peeks down from Raymond Kaskey's Commerce sculpture.

The public art program in Charlotte-Mecklenburg was initiated in 1981.  In 2003, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners and Charlotte City Council adopted ordinances that appropriate 1 percent of eligible capital improvement project funds for public art.  This will ensure that artworks enhance our public spaces and become an integral part of urban and economic development efforts.

In addition to artwork commissioned by ASC’s Public Art Commission there are numerous private commissions throughout Center City. Collectively these public artworks add vibrancy and dimension to Center City.

Ned Kahn's Wind Silos. Photo by Shaina Spring.

Ned Kahn, Wind Silos - Commissioned in 2005 by Bank of America, the shimmering Wind Silos adorns the facade of the International Trade Center parking deck. Kahn’s inspiration for the piece came from the Archer Daniels Midland silos still standing in Fourth Ward.

Ben Long, Continuum - Bank of America owns multiple Ben Long frescoes along N. Tryon St. Three are at the company’s corporate headquarters and the other is at the TransAmerica Building at 401 N. Tryon in an exterior rotunda. The fresco features many faces of North Carolina. Among those is former Bank of America Chairman and CEO Hugh McColl. Mr. McColl casually looks out from the edge of the fresco. See if you can find him.

Larry Kirkland, The Writer’s Desk – This piece of artwork was commissioned to honor Rolfe Neill, the former publisher of the Charlotte Observer. Enjoy quotes from Neill’s Sunday columns and play around on the typewriter keys. See The Writer’s Desk at ImaginOn at 300 E. 7th St.

Can you find Hugh McColl in Ben Long's Continuum?

Raymond Kaskey, Sculptures on the Square – Among the most recognizable pieces of public art in Charlotte, Sculptures on the Square, were commissioned in 1994 by The Queens Table. Kaskey, a preeminent American sculptor whose work adorns the National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. among others, sculpted each of the four pillars to represent Charlotte’s past, present and future. This is represented by Commerce, Transportation, Industry and Future. See if you can find the bust of former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Commerce. See the artworks at the intersection of Trade St. and Tryon St.

Andrew Leicester's Flying Shuttles

Andrew Leicester, Flying Shuttles – They’re the bright colored obelisk like structures in front of Time Warner Cable Arena. Think you know what they represent? Leicester used North Carolina’s textile history as inspiration for creating the flying shuttles that run along East Trade St. Each one represents a textile bobbin with thread wrapping around. Find more public art all over the arena property.

Larry Kirkland's The Writer's Desk. Photo by Shaina Spring.

Christopher Janney, Touch My BuildingPerhaps the most interactive piece of public art in Charlotte, Touch My Building has wrapped around the parking deck at 7th Street Station since 1998. This piece, another commissioned by Bank of America, features “fins” that light up and play sounds on touch. The art is also hiding a riddle – so goes the legend, if you touch the fins in the correct order the building will reveal a musical and light show. Can you solve the riddle?

Jean Tinguely, Cascade – Famed kinetic sculptor Jean Tinguely came to Charlotte in 1990 and 1991 at the urging of his friend Andreas Bechtler, who also happens to be the main benefactor of Charlotte’s Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Tinguely’s last monumental sculpture before his death came together out of pieces discovered locally and on the site of the old Hotel Charlotte, where the Carillon building and Cascade now stand. Did you know a lion’s head from the facade of the Hotel Charlotte is incorporated into Cascade? Check it out at 227 W. Trade St.

Interested in seeing more? Click here for the public art walking tour map and click here for the walking tour podcast.

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