Dabney Sanders: We knew from the early planning stages for the Downtown Greenway that we wanted public art to really be a major component of this 4 mile loop. Certainly, we are interested in people enjoying it for health and recreation. We are doing it to encourage economic development but we also really wanted to create something that was iconic for Greensboro and something that would really represent who Greensboro is and Greensboro’s history.
There were some opportunities to have artists create purely functional works for us, so we have bike racks that will be scattered along the Greenway and we have commissioned a local artist to do two of those so far and we plan to continue that as we build additional sections and then we have realized after the original planning process that there were some unique opportunities that we were presented with either to tell stories or to create an environment with public art, and so we have some other things, special markers that we have done, two really exciting ones so far. One is called ColorHaus designed by Primary Flight, an artist group out of Miami and you can see the painted murals as a backdrop to this trailhead parking area here at Morehead Park. We did a collaboration with Elsewhere to bring the group of artists from Miami to do a three-week residency here and they were able to involve the community in some of their work and we think it makes just a great statement to encourage people to see a little something different and want to explore this section of the Downtown Greenway.
The other piece that we are really excited about is a piece called Over.Under.Pass that was created by local Greensboro artist, Jim Gallucci and Scott Richardson, and we had an opportunity in this section of Morehead Park to reclaim an abandoned railroad underpass that had not been in use since the mid 1970s. This was an underpass that used to be well-used by vehicles and pedestrians and has been impassible all of these years and when we were looking at the opportunities there, we wanted to create a safe environment but we also wanted to create an artistically exciting environment as well, so Jim Gallucci designed iron gates modeled after art deco style, architectural features he found on a nearby building that was built in 1928, the same year that the railroad underpass was built, and Scott Richardson designed a lighting program using colored LED lights that are motion sensored so that as the public traverses through the area, they can actually interact with and make the lights do interesting things and it has been a real popular attraction here, something new and a little bit unusual for Greensboro.
We were recognized for this project with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and we love hearing Rocco Landesman, the chairman of the NEA, talk all over the country about how proud he is of what Greensboro is doing in terms of creative placemaking in their community.