Thursday, December 11, 2008

Artwork Dedication December 13

Celebrating the Completion of a Community Public Art Project

Memphis, TN – Saturday, December 13 at 3:00 PM, UrbanArt is hosting a celebration of the completion of the Rugby Gates project. The celebration will take place at the 20-foot-tall columns just north of the intersection of Overton Crossing and James Road, adjacent to Madea’s at 2665 Overton Crossing.

Rugby Gates is a City of Memphis Percent-for-Art project and was a part of the Overton Crossing road-widening project. Artist Gregg Schlanger of Clarksville, TN, worked closely with the community of Rugby and with the greater Frayser community to collect stories and history about the area and the people who live here.

The project consists of the two 20-foot-tall columns and ten 5-foot columns that repeat the gateway motif as one travels up Overton Crossing. Schlanger chose to make the columns out of brick due to Frayser once being the home of Memphis’s brick yards. He received 80,000 pounds of donated clay not only from Frayser, but from the original farm of Dr. John Frayser for whom the area was named.

Schlanger focused on a few community icons such as a water tower that formerly stood at the top of Overton Crossing near Vine Street, a stone gateway that was near where the large columns now stand, street cars that ran from downtown Memphis and an old train bridge over the nearby Wolf River.

The collected images were carved into the brick columns, creating relief images. In addition, he made 100 clay tiles carved with the likenesses of people from the area: people who helped with the project, historical figures and images that represent the people’s stories. There are 10 carved tiles on each small column.

Twenty-six local high school students were hired to assist in making the bricks at Arkwings, which is located around the corner from the project, and was set up as a temporary brickyard for the project. These bricks were stamped with over 400 names submitted by people who live in the neighborhood. Schlanger worked with high school students and the Frayser Community Development Corporation to hand out 2500 flyers door-to-door in the area to request names for the bricks.

The project was commissioned by the UrbanArt Commission for the City of Memphis. UrbanArt oversees the City’s Percent-for-Art program. UrbanArt’s mission is to create a dynamic, vibrant, nurturing community through art and design.

For more information contact Elizabeth Alley, Director of Public Art, or John Weeden, Executive Director, at 901. 454.0474.

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