Charlotte, public art, George Washington, ” a trifling place” : A trifling place … I beg to differ …
President George Washington called Charlotte, a “trifling place” during his visit to the city in 1791. But it’s certainly changed since then.
WFAE’s Tasnim Shamma explores the ins-and-outs of Charlotte in this podcast
Four statues at each corner of the intersection further distinguish the square. These statues are the subject of this edition of A Trifling Place.
So there’s a lot of history at this particular intersection and a lot to celebrate. Including what I’ve heard referred to as the Communist-looking statues on the square. You can’t miss them. They’re 24-feet tall bronze sculptures on the four corners of Trade and Tryon Street in uptown Charlotte. They each weigh about 5,000 pounds.
I need a history lesson. So I recruited Nicole Bartlett, program director of public art at the Arts & Science Council. She was my teacher for the day.
“The Sculptures on the Square,” as they’re known, were made by Raymond Kaskey and represent Commerce, Industry, Transportation and the Future. The sculptures were dedicated in 1995 and were a gift from The Queen’s Table, a local philanthropic group. They fund some of the big public art projects in Charlotte.
The ordinance, adopted 10 years ago, established a consistent funding source for public art in Charlotte-Mecklenburg by appropriating 1 percent of eligible capital improvement project funds for public art. The ordinance ensures that artworks enhance our public spaces and become an integral part of urban and economic development efforts.
One of the first projects that came as a result of the ordinance is the public artwork found at Time Warner Cable Arena (formerly Charlotte Bobcats Arena), which opened in 2005 in uptown Charlotte.
“Once Charlotte and Mecklenburg County’s ordinances were adopted… funds were set aside for public art at the city’s proposed uptown arena,” Greer recalled. “Many months of behind- the -scenes planning with municipal staff and architects transpired before artists could be invited to apply. Volunteer selection committees reviewed the work of hundreds of artists and interviewed dozens.”
In late 2002, Mecklenburg County adopted The Public Art Ordinance, which was soon after adopted by the city of Charlotte. This ordinance appropriates one percent of eligible capital improvement funds for public art. In the decade since then, 67 public art pieces have been completed or are in progress. There will be a celebration of 10 years of public art later this month in Charlotte, and before that, we’ll talk about what constitutes public art, what the benefits of it are, and the role public art plays in Charlotte moving forward, when Charlotte Talks.