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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

Public Art to be Dedicated in Downtown Kingsport

"Birds of A Feather," a mobile by Patti Lawrence of Kingsport, reminds the viewer that everyone can "flock together' in a cohesive community.
Additional photos below »

Works of Lynn Basa and Patti Lawrence added to community's public art

September 14, 2010

KINGSPORT, TN — The Kingsport Public Art Committee announces completion of public art through Kingsport's Percent for Art for the Kingsport Higher Education Center and surrounding Academic Village.

A Celebration of Public Art will be held on Monday, September 20, 2010 at 10 a.m. at the corner of Clay and Market streets and at the Kingsport Higher Education Center. Mayor Dennis Phillips will welcome the works of Lynn Basa and Patti Lawrence to the community's growing efforts in Public Art. Both artists will be in attendance as well as members of the Public Art Committee chaired by Roy Harmon. The celebration is free and open to the public.

"Learning Curve" was commissioned by the Public Art Committee and executed through a partnership with Kingsport Tomorrow. Basa from Chicago, Illinois, is the lead artist and designer. The site specific work provides benches and a shade canopy along a curving and expanding path. Materials used in production of the piece reference the traditional materials manufactured in Kingsport including, brick and concrete. The bricks for the piece were re-purposed from several buildings of the historic Kingsport Press. The shade canopy features Eastman Chemical Company's latest monomer "Tritan' in vibrant hues of blue, yellow and orange. The shade canopy casts a shadow on surrounding area as the sun shines through. The pattern of the canopy reflects the historic design of Kingsport's center of town as designed by planner John Nolen in 1917. Likewise the paving pattern in the sidewalk plaza references the path of education leading to broadened horizons. The installation was completely crafted by Kingsport artists including Appalachian Ironworks, Limestone Masonry and Solid Living Design.

In her proposal Basa commented, "materials are symbolic, that's why, for Kingsport, I would like to create an artwork that weds the town's past with its present and future. One of the first things that clued me in to the fact that Kingsport was no ordinary small town was when I came upon the 1919 street plan [designed by John Nolen], as elegant and rational as any world capital. As I researched further, it became evident that a direct line can be drawn between the strategic thinking of Kingsport's leaders 100 years ago in creating the country's first modern industrial town plan and the 2001 "Educate and Grow' initiative as a solution to the changing economy well in advance, it should be noted, of today's economic crisis." Basa has designed public art projects throughout the United States including The Great Circle Route, terrazzo, ceramic mosaic and fiber art in the Indianapolis Airport; Glendale, Ariz., History Walk, glass mosaic; "Grove Mosaic and Shade Canopy," glass mosaic and laser-cut aluminum; among many others. Basa is also the author of The Artist's Guide to Public Art and is a regular instructor for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Lawrence was also commissioned by the Kingsport Public Art Committee to create a community art project for the Kingsport Higher Education Center. With additional grant support from the First Tennessee Foundation, Lawrence created a flock of birds from recyclable plastic containers, each unique in its size, shape and color which have been suspended from the 3rd floor of the grand staircase in the Kingsport Higher Education Center. Lawrence stated in her proposal, "The old adage, 'Birds of a feather...' comes to mind, and yet we see in the mobile that different birds can "flock together' in a cohesive community, each individual being beautiful on its own, yet becoming more important as a part of the whole. The mobile will serve as a reminder that even though we may all come from different backgrounds, we have all come here to enjoy the life that our forefathers have laid the groundwork for in a setting so beautiful, we must all work together to preserve. That preservation of resources will encourage the re-use and re-interpretation of chemical compounds that might have originated right here in our own backyard at Eastman." Lawrence holds bachelors and master degrees in art and education and formerly operated her own gallery.

Throughout the Academic Village the Public Art Committee has adopted exhibit areas for its on-going "Art in Public Places' exhibits and Kathy Blair of Murals and More has created a charming mural adjacent to the Kingsport Child Development Center on a wall that was exposed to make way for the expanded parking of the village.

The Academic Village and Kingsport Higher Education Center have been recognized by Harvard University as an Innovation in Government award winner. Kingsport's Public Art Committee was created by ordinance in 2006 and annual presents the Sculpture Walk, a downtown temporary exhibit of outdoor sculpture. Members of the committee include Roy Harmon, T. Arthur Scott, Jr., Denise DePriest, Bruce Shine, Lisa Anne Milhorn, Chris Campbell, Greg Willis, Ann Vachon, Judy Smith and Brad Hoover. Administration for the program is provided by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Kingsport.

"Learning Curve" by Lynn Basa from Chicago, Ill., is a site-specific work that provides benches and a shade canopy along a curved pathway.