GATEWAY SCULPTURE PUBLIC FEEDBACK
The City of Augusta, through a dedicated SPLOST 7 funded project, is commissioning the creation of three large-scale sculptures at three gateways to the City.
The first gateway sculpture will be located near the intersection of Riverwatch Parkway and Alexander Drive. The two finalists for this project are Clearscapes and Gregory Johnson Fine Art. Their proposals are on display at the City Gallery on the first floor of the Municipal Building at 535 Telfair Street through September 10, 2019. Please take a moment to review their proposals, let us know which one you prefer, and offer your feedback.
Public Comments Are Now Closed. Thank you for your support.
From Gregory Johnson Fine Art:
Thinking about “what” to present required research. I asked many of my friends and acquaintances “When I say Augusta what comes to mind”? What comes to your mind?
When people view representational sculptures there is usually an immediate connection of subject matter to the viewer. But when viewing modern artwork, the most common question I hear is “What is it”?
I think when it comes to modern sculpture, a few of the best questions are: Is this the essence of something? Is it interesting to look at? Do the positive and negative shapes work together? Does the work expand beyond its boundaries? How does it make me feel?
In my opinion, traditional works tend to celebrate the past, while the modern works look to the future. My gateway sculpture design features both.
Can you see the essence of “something” rising above the beautiful Azaleas? PLEASE STOP READING, AND TAKE A MOMENT TO ASK YOURSELF, WHAT AM I FEELING AND SEEING? THERE ARE NO WRONG ANSWERS. ONCE YOU HAVE YOUR IDEA, PLEASE CONTINUE READING….
My design that I have presented is the essence of a back swing. Lyrical, radiant and full of energy. Other people have suggested they see the aroma of the Azaleas, the fluttering of a pin flag, the path of a golf ball, and swans or geese.
The metal soars into the sky at 17”2”. It bends and twists gracefully. This modern look speaks to the future- I think it is a timeless design. Engineered on a 5’ circular powder coated base that is bolted to the concrete.
The Azaleas are large, 6’ in diameter by 3’ in depth: each petal is beautifully detailed out in bronze, presented in a soft white, with shadows creating a beautiful dimensional presence. The stamens will be made from curved stainless steel rod, delicately balancing satin finished balls approximately 3” in diameter. A perfect accent that ties together the modern metal to the traditional flowers. (Three different sizes of flowers, representing the youth and maturity alike. This celebrates the past. If you do not like this variety of Azaleas, it can be modified, even changed to magnolias). Let’s create the flowers that best captures the essence of Augusta.
To further tie in the Augusta National Golf Course, the Azalea leaves are designed like the putting green outlined by Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie in the 1930’s. And all of this is softly uplighted from dusk until dawn.
In closing, please remember that I am open to suggestions and willing to incorporate ideas, understanding that the best design often comes from interaction, discovery and development.
From Clearscapes, artist Thomas Sayre:
THE SITE, THE GOAL
The goal of this proposal for the first of three gateway sculptures for the City of Augusta, Georgia, is to create a memorable marker which is conceptually provoking about the history and character of the City of Augusta. The site is large with the audience being primarily passengers of the 150,000 automobiles per day which pass by the site. There may be occasional pedestrians, but the sculpture is not designed to engage pedestrians at an intimate scale. Rather, this project is fashioned to function on the scale and power of a true city gateway, not a mere decorative anomaly along a large roadway. Given the safety and engineering concerns revolving around any heavily trafficked roadway, the available site is, in the end, a plinth formed by the earthen berm which is currently covered by a number of trees and underbrush. We propose to “sculpt” the site into a more overt plinth for the sculpture and create a gap or space between the sculpture and the trees allowing room for a low, decorative groundcover to further define the sculpture’s base. The exact siting, placement, and dimensions of the sculpture will ultimately be determined in collaboration between the Artist, the City, and the Georgia Department of Transportation.
We are proposing to create a large sculptural tower in the form of stacked “stones” which will be fashioned from excavated molds directly in the earth. For centuries, all over the world humans have found their way along pathways in part by marking those paths with stacked stone assemblies which are sometimes called “cairns”. These are way-finding devices to inform us humans about where we are, that we are on the right path. The first point about cairns is that they are made from a series of stones, each unique; but similar enough to be capable of being stacked into a single unit, a single form. Similarly, the proposed sculpture will be made of seven or eight unique conical earthcast forms; but which will be fashioned into one large sculpture. Isn’t community just like this? We are all different, yet, simultaneously, we are all the same. Because we all share so much sameness, we can combine into communities made far stronger by the aggregation of our differences. Thus, this sculpture begins by expressing the unity of Augusta’s varied community.
Technically, the “stones” of the cairn will be made by digging molds directly in the earth using a large, 90” tree spade normally used to transplant large trees. Into each mold, reinforced, high-strength concrete will be poured to yield seven or eight unique conical forms averaging a little over 3-feet in height which will be stacked on a structural steel column to provide a 25-foot tower. The exact height and number of earthcastings will be collaboratively decided depending upon exact site conditions. These earthcastings are the unique result of the human hand reaching into the local Augusta soil where human intention is balanced with the variety and richness of the natural world contained in the local geology. The tower itself will be an expression of the interaction between human invention (the tree spade) and the grain of nature (the local soil).
The massive, stacked tower will be literally made in the soil which sustained the region’s agrarian economy for many decades beginning at the time of the American Revolution. Just as Augusta began in the earth, in the place at the convergence of hunting and trading paths, the sculpture will be born literally out of the local dirt. It’s massive vertical form against the sky along Riverwatch Parkway speaks of Augusta’s more recent industrial past and rhymes with the forms of smokestacks, river pylons, and railroad signal poles. The cairn will point to the part of Augusta’s commercial past which centered around the river, the canal, and rail lines, to Augusta’s industry and success as a commercial hub in the region.
The gateway, however, must also be about the future. What Augusta can become. The presence of this large cairn front and center along one of the primary routes to downtown (and to the Master’s golf course) and standing over 25-feet in height is a loud assertion of Augusta’s commitment to art of this time, of now, and points to Augusta’s cultural future. The cairn marks a pathway to downtown Augusta, but it also marks a node along the way towards the future. It is a step towards an evolving culture which includes all the stones stacked into a strong communal whole.