BEST PRACTICES: International Artists Transform a Chattanooga Brownfield

2017-10-27T07:52:11+00:00

Doug Schatz – “River City Queen” (welded steel)

CHATTANOOGA. A 33-acre sculpture park located on Chattanooga’s Southside features a winding path around 32 large-scale sculptures by internationally recognized artists. The setting offers a mix of elevations and a stunning view of Lookout Mountain in the distance. The slopes have also been planted with more than 100 native trees. Sculpture Fields at Montague Park has transformed a restored brownfield, using a creative design approach and a public-private partnership.

The outdoor gallery is curated by John Henry, a renowned sculptor who founded Sculpture Fields near his industrial-scale art studio in April 2016. Locals visit the park to enjoy an inspiring walk or run, for yoga meet-ups, kite flying, and walking their dog. The urban setting has become a design destination and catalyst for tourism and recreation. 

 

 

In the United States, sculpture gardens and parks have traditionally been attached to museums or situated on university campus sites. Chattanooga’s Sculpture Fields at Montague Park taps into the city’s national recognition as a recreation mecca by such publications as Outside Magazine.

The art installations at the Sculpture Field at Montague Park are the latest editions to a city with broad and vibrant public art efforts. Local government and foundations fund numerous street sculptures and murals. There’s also the Bluff View Arts District where the Portera family have privately invested in the River Gallery Sculpture Garden on the river bluffs. Next door to the Portera’s investment is the Hunter Museum of American Art with it’s front lawn of works by Red Grooms and Alexander Calder.

Photo of Andrew Nigh by Alison Sexter

The Sculpture Fields at Montague Park offer an intentionally non-academic setting grounded in the city’s industrial past. Railroad tracks and brick industrial buildings border the large site and provide more than an authentic gritty texture. The large greenscape offers an infusion of imagination and wonder to serve an underserved area of town. The destination is a short bike ride from Main Street, on the way home for interstate commuters, and a significant social intersection for the city.  

Chattanooga artist Andrew Nigh with Winter Sun Studio was commissioned to create the grand finale of today’s one-year-anniversary event at Sculpture Fields. He built an impressive wooden structure with an intricate internal trellis holding fuel sources. The result was a large-scale sculptural torch offering built-in delays and dominoe effects that evoked a Rube Goldberg contraption. Hundreds gathered in the wide open field at dark to witness ‘the burn.’

Joy Devlin of Chattanooga recorded the dramatic result of Andrew’s design at full blaze.

For a complete list of featured artists, visit sculpturefields.org/gallery.

 

Andrew Nigh of Winter Sun Studios, a master carpenter and designer, is pictured with a prototype of his sculpture and a glimpse at the building process. Photo courtesy of Winter Sun Studios. 

Detail of the sculpture designed by Andrew Nigh. The structure served as the finale of the day-long one-year-anniversary festival held at Sculpture Fields at Montague Park. Various flammables are arranged on small trellises to control the visual drama of the burn. 

Chattanooga resident Alison Sexter, who lives less than a mile from the sculpture park in Ferger Place, Chattanooga’s first planned neighborhood, captured the drama and elegance of Andrew Nigh’s sculpture burn. Hundreds gathered for the collective experience.

Ray Katz ‘Odyssey’

Lookout Mountain can be seen in the distance, beyond this fabricated steel sculpture titled ‘Swizzle’ by American artist Mark diSuvero

Detail of ‘Harmony of Earth, Water, Fire and Wind’ in stainless steel and bronze by Palestinian artist Hanna Jubran

A young couple enjoying the spring day and Linda Howard’s ‘Temple Mayan’

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3 Comments

  1. Peggy Petrey April 10, 2017 at 10:47 am - Reply

    Thank you for the great article and photo editorial on Sculpture Fields in Chattanooga, TN. To witness this space celebrating it’s first anniversary has been an inspiration to myself and others. To watch a spark of imagination, a vision, transformed into a 33 acre park in an unsuspecting location has been fascinating and a learning experience in community involvement. The future of this outdoor museum is only limited by the imagination of the board, the committees and the public. With the help and community of all three bodies Sculpture Fields will become the hub of artistic expressions. I’m thankful to be a part creating a this lasting international impression in the Southeastern United States.

    • Laurie Perry Vaughen April 10, 2017 at 11:59 am - Reply

      Thank you for your comments, Peggy, and your work as an artist and advocate in your community.

  2. Ali Gebril April 10, 2017 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Inspiring ! both the idea and the execution !… I think the previous comment by Peggy Petrey put it best: “The future of this outdoor museum is only limited by the imagination of the board, the committees and the public”

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