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 and Greensboro’s rich 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. We have commissioned a local artist to do two of those bike racks so far, and we plan to continue that as we build additional sections. We also realized after the original planning process that we were presented with some unique opportunities, either to tell stories or to create an environment with public art. 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 from Miami. You can see the painted murals as a backdrop to this trailhead parking area here at Morehead Park. We collaborated with Elsewhere to bring the group of artists from Miami to do a three-week residency here. They were able to involve the community in some of their work, and we think it makes a great statement to encourage people to see a little something different and want to explore this section of the Greenway.
The other piece that excites us is a piece called Over.Under.Pass, created by local Greensboro artists Jim Gallucci and Scott Richardson. 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 both vehicles and pedestrians, and has been impassible all of these years. 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. 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. Scott Richardson designed a lighting program using colored, motion-sensored LED lights. As the public traverses through the area, they can interact with and make the lights do interesting things. Over.Under.Pass has been a 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.