Dabney Sanders: We knew from the early planning stages for the Downtown Greenway that we wanted public art to 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 wanted to create something that was iconic for Greensboro and something that would really represent what Greensboro is as well as Greensboro’s rich history. We have a number of different ways that we are accomplishing that goal with public art on the Greenway. One of those ways is creating and commissioning four cornerstones that mark the corners of the 4-mile loop. We wanted those pieces of public art to represent city-wide themes that have been important in making Greensboro what it is today. So we have commissioned the first artist to create a cornerstone with the theme of “Motion,” and it is called Gateway of the Open Book. Rhode Island Artist Brower Hatcher created that piece, and he collaborated with local artist Frank Russell as well as students from local elementary and high schools represented by the Warnersville neighborhood, which is the closest neighborhood the Gateway of the Open Book.
The Gateway of the Open Book looks at two things: the history and importance of transportation in this community and the intersection of railroads and a good highway system. At the same time, it also represents the role of education. We have seven colleges and universities in Greensboro and Guilford County, and that is unusual for a community of our size. We think the forward movement of people’s minds is an important part of not only who we are, but also who we want to be in the future.
The other cornerstone themes will be “Freedom,” which sits in the southeast corner of the loop and, of course, that looks at the role that Greensboro played in the National Civil Rights sit-in movement. We have a cornerstone that will represent “Innovation” in the northeast corner, looking toward where Cone Mills has operated and the historic White Oak Plant. That cornerstone will represent the role that innovative industries have played in Greensboro and the role that both entrepreneurialism and innovation continue to play in defiing our community. Tradition, the last cornerstone, is in the northwest corner and will look northwest toward the Battle of Guilford Court House, National Military Park and the role that Greensboro played in the revolutionary war. All of those pieces of our history were important in helping to shape Greensboro today.