We are commissioning 9 benches to be created by North Carolina artists and recognizing neighborhood connections along the Downtown Greenway. Each artist will be assigned a location and will work with the appropriate neighborhood to determine the character of that neighborhood and use that for inspiration in the design.
Five Points Bench
Gary Gresko, Oriental, NC. Installed 2009 at Five Points near the intersection of Freeman Mill Road ramp to West Lee Street.
In this video, artist Gary Gresko describes the benches he has designed for the Downtown Greenway in the Warnersville neighborhood.
This public art seating area is the first of 9 neighborhood benches to be commissioned for the Greenway. Its design reflects input from residents of the Warnersville neighborhood who attended a series of community meetings led by the artist. Warnersville, Greensboro’s first African-American community, was once known as Five Points, and so the number five is a repeated symbol in this work. The five words etched into the backs of each chair were chosen by residents to describe the essence of their neighborhood and its history. African teak was used as the material for the five seats that make up the bench. The five rocks that create a backdrop for the piece were unearthed at the original site for installation and symbolize the bedrock that Warnersville has been for the people who live there, as well as the role it has played as the foundation for the African-American community in Greensboro. The semi-circular design with individual seating was used to create an inviting, “front porch” feel that the artist hopes will encourage conversation and communication.
The Five Points Bench, by Gary Gresko of Oriental, NC, was installed on Monday, June 15th, 2009, and is located at the intersection of West Lee Street and the Freeman Mill Road ramp.
Ben Kastner and Toby Keeton, Wilmington, NC. Installed 2012 at Morehead Park near the intersection of Spring Garden and Edgeworth Streets.
If one were to take the analogy of Greensboro as a house, the Downtown Greenway project can be likened to a living room. In this place, community members will come together for interaction and leisure. Taking these simple terms, the artists at ALLOY have begun to think of this project as more of a couch or loveseat than a bench. In this way, a grouping of furniture-like objects which relate or face one another promotes interaction between community members using this space. Furthermore, we would indeed like this piece (or pieces) to be emblematic of the historic nature of the neighborhood. To accomplish this without interfering with a genuine historic experience, we propose taking historically inspired objects out of their normal context. Our initial sketch idea, quite simply, is to produce a finely crafted outdoor bench inspired by 19th century indoor furniture.
We see this as an opportunity to engage the public in a dialogue about the historic nature and personality of their neighborhood, including the often ostentatious manner in which people have populated homes (such as the nearby Italianate flourishes of Blandwood, for example). Furthermore, we are intrigued by the possibility of representing indoor materials such as fabric and delicate wood in an outdoor material such as steel, bronze, hardwoods or concrete. We have been trained in many blacksmith and metal working techniques, which we would like to explore in this project, such as traditional mortise and tenon joinery and sheet “repousse” or chasing work, which gives sheets of iron a billowy, almost fabric-like quality or can be used to shape details akin to a wood carving.
Durham artist Jeanette Brossart created a mosaic inlaid concrete bench that has created a seating area and formed the keystone for the new triangular park in Phase 3 called LoFi Park. After public meetings with the Fisher Park neighborhood, she designed a meandering stream that reflects the important elements of Fisher Park and its surrounding neighborhood. The park is located in front of Joymongers Brewing Company at the intersection of Smith/Eugene/Battleground and features the neighborhood bench, water fountain, and a solar powered trash receptacle. An artistic bike rack will be added to the site. Click here for examples of Jeannette’s work.