For most of us, the city where we were born is the “best city on earth”.  EXAMPLE:   About ten (10) years ago I traveled with three other guys to Sweetwater, Texas.  About sixteen (16) hours of nonstop travel, each of us taking four (4) hour shifts.  We attended the fifth (50th) “Rattlesnake Roundup”. (You are correct—what were we thinking?)  Time of year—March.  The winter months are when the critters are less active and their strike is much slower.  Summer months, forget it.  You will not win that contest.  We were there about four (4) days and got to know the great people of Sweetwater.  The city itself is very hot, even for March, but most of all windy and dusty.  The wind never seems to stop.  Ask about Sweetwater— “best little city on the planet”.  Wouldn’t leave for all the money in the world.  That’s just how I feel about my home town—Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Public Art Chattanooga decided to add a splash of color to the monolithic grey hulk of the AT&T building, located on the Southside of Chattanooga proper.  This building is a tall windowless structure resembling the “BORG” habitat detailed in several Star Trek episodes.  Not really appealing in any sense of the word.  When Public Art received permission to go forward, they called internationally respected artist Meg Saligman.  Meg was the obvious choice for the work.  This is her largest mural to date covering approximately 42,000 square feet.  It is definitely one of the five (5) largest murals in the country and the largest in the Southeastern part of the United States.

The ML King District Mural Project reinforces the critical role public art plays in lending a sense of place to a specific neighborhood, and certainly contributes to future neighborhood beautification and economic development efforts. The images and people in the mural are inspired by real stories, individuals, and the history of the neighborhood.  For approximately six (6) months, people living and visiting the Southside were interviewed to obtain their opinion and perspective as to what stories would be displayed by the mural.  The proper balance was required, discussed, and met, with the outcome being spectacular.

This is a Meg Saligman Studios project.  Co-Principal Artists are Meg Saligman and Lizzie Kripke. Lead Artists Hollie Berry and James Tafel Shuster In 2006, Public Art Review featured Meg Saligman as one of the ten most influential American muralists of the past decade. She has received numerous awards, including the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program’s Visionary Artist Award, and honors from the National Endowment of the Arts, the MidAtlantic Arts Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Philadelphia’s Leeway Foundation.  Saligman has painted more than fifty murals all over the world, including Philadelphia, Shreveport, Mexico City, and now Chattanooga.  She has a way of mixing the classical and contemporary aspects of painting together. Prior to the M.L.K mural, Saligman’s most famous work is “Common Threads” located in the Philadelphia area. It is painted on the west wall of the Stevens Administrative Center at the corner of Broad and Spring Garden Streets. Other major works include “Philadelphia Muses” on 13th and Locust streets, a multimedia “Theatre of Life” on Broad and Lombard streets, “Passing Through”  over the Schuylkill Expressway, and the paint and LED light installation at Broad and Vine streets, “Evolving Face of Nursing”.  Saligman’s work can be viewed nationally in Shreveport, Louisiana, with “Once in a Millennium Moon”, and in Omaha, Nebraska, with “Fertile Ground.”

A key component of the M.L.K. Mural in Chattanooga was the local apprentice program offering an opportunity for local artists to work with the nationally recognized muralist and to learn techniques and methods for large scale projects such as this. From thirty-three (33) applicants, Meg interviewed and hired a team of six (6) locals who constituted an integral part of the program itself.  Each artist was hired for their artistic skill sets and their ability to work collaboratively as team members. Members of the local team are: 1.) Abdul Ahmad, 2.) Anna Carll, 3.) Rondell Crier, 4.) Shaun LaRose, 5.) Mercedes Llanos and 6.) Anier Reina.

Now, with that being said, let’s take a look.

From this digital photograph and the one below, you can get a feel for the scope of the project and the building the artwork is applied to.  As you can see, it’s a dull grey, windowless, concrete structure well-suited for such a face-lift.  Due to the height and size of the building, bucket trucks were used to apply the paint.

The layout, of course, was developed on paper first with designs applied to quadrants on the building.  You can see some of the interacies of the process from the JPEG above.

The planning for this project took the better part of one year due to the complexity and the layout necessary prior to initiating the project.  As I traveled down M.L.King Avenue, I would watch the progress in laying out the forms that would accept the colors and shades of paint.  In one respect, it was very similar to paint-by-numbers.  Really fascinating to watch the development of the artwork even prior to painting.

The completed mural covers all four (4) sides of the AT&T building and as you can see from the JPEG below—it is striking.

This gives you one more reason to visit Chattanooga.  As always, I welcome your comments.

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SPRING HAS SPRUNG

April 13, 2017


Each year the Brainerd Baptist Church of Chattanooga sponsors a “Spring Garden Party”.  As you might expect, this event determines Spring is not only here but winter will NOT come again for several months.  It is a marvelous event for their church and serves to get everyone together celebrating the beginning of the season.  Anyone living in Chattanooga can only look at the pollen count to know that bushes, shrubs, flowers, trees, etc. are in full bloom.  One great thing about the event is the marvelous creativity shown by table settings individually “constructed” for each table.  Brainerd Baptist facility is called the BX, and houses two basketball floors, weight room, in-door track, meeting rooms, and small diner.  It really is the meeting place for not only members of the Brainerd Baptists Church but the neighborhood in general.  We are going to take a pictorial look at several striking examples of the creativity demonstrated for each table. Not much narrative with this post—only digital photographs.  One thing I’m going to ask—please notice the great variety in table settings themselves.  Plates, utensils, napkins, etc.  They are unique for each table and definitely complement the overall theme for each table. I’m going to apologize up front for the photographic quality of several JPEGs.  I used the camera in my phone. Sometimes a hit and sometimes a miss.  Let’s take a look.

Above the stage was a three-panel sign announcing the event and welcoming the participants.

As you can see, the floor is immense and obviously large enough to accommodate approximately fifty (50) tables seating eight (8) individuals.  The efforts expended by the church members occurs over an entire week.  Each table is numbered with occupants of each table being asked by the host of that table to join the event.  A roster of table numbers and names if provided at the entry.

The Table 6 host has place settings that look like cabbage leaves.  Please note the purple cabbage leaves wrapped around the glasses.  Really unique.

You might have to look, but there are three (3) crosses displayed in the planter for this table arrangement. Notice the intricate design on the plates.

We all love popcorn.  This table represents an afternoon at the movies.

Table 21 is the jelly bean table.  The colors do not show up that much but there are beans in each jar.

Table 20

Table 13 is decorated with typical spring flowers called forsythia found in the Southeastern portion of our country.

The host for this table has gone international.  Beautiful centerpiece representing clothes worn in other countries.

The center piece displays white tulips.  I have no idea as to where the host found these beautiful flowers. Please note the napkins and utensils.

Table 4 shows a lamb as the centerpiece. Definitely a religions theme. Again, please note the salad plates showing a picture of a lamb.

We all love Easter bunnies.  The eggs are real hard-boiled eggs.

Table 17—Tea Cups

This table setting was by far the tallest with sunflowers or daisies gracing the centerpiece. You cannot really tell from this JPEG but each individual plate has the name of the person that will be sitting in that position. Really creative.

While walking the indoor track, I took a picture of tallest center piece from above.

This table featured the plate shown above at each of the eight positions. The color of the place mats varied from chair to chair.

Table 36 shows hot air balloons floating away.

The photo of Table 35 is a bit washed out but the colors were striking with this one.

Table 38 shows a vase with coffee beans as the center piece.  Really creative and colors were contrasting which gave a distinctive appearance.  If you look very carefully, you will notice individual Frappuccino “offerings” as favors.

You cannot imagine the beautiful spring flowers created by the host of table 30.

I certainly hope you enjoyed the tour.  Not much text—just beautiful and creative displays.

CHICAGO—THE MUSICAL

February 18, 2017


Our youngest son and his wife gave us two tickets to the musical CHICAGO.   This was a Christmas present from them this past year.  The play was held in one of the most beautiful theaters in the south and certainly the most beautiful in the Chattanooga area.  Before we talk about the play, let’s take a quick look at the Tivoli Theater.

THE TIVOLI:

The Tivoli Theater is located at 709 Broad Street in downtown Chattanooga and is definitely the focal point of the city.  The first digital shows the entrance and the marquee as you approach from Broad Street.

outside

The Tivoli was built between 1919 and 1921 at a cost of $750,000.  That was a huge sum of money in 1919.   It was designed by the famed Chicago-based architectural firm Rapp and Rapp and well-known Chattanooga architect Reuben H. Hunt.  It was constructed by the John Parks Company (general contractors) and was one of the first air-conditioned public buildings in the United States.  The theatre was named Tivoli after Tivoli, Italy.  It has cream tiles and beige terra-cotta bricks;  a large red, black, and white marquee with one thousand (1,000) chaser lights, with, as you can see, a large black neon sign that displays TIVOLI with still more chaser lights.

It is a well preserved and excellent example of the downtown Grand Palace Theater built throughout America in the 1920s. Not every town and city has a comparable theater so we are extremely lucky and very happy events such as CHICAGO still visit.   Its elaborate and exotic architectural and decorative detail, its conveniences, and luxurious materials combine to make theater going a complete social as well as entertainment phenomenon infrequently rivaled. Notable is its elaborate plaster work, rich colors and textures, marble, and theater organ. It was also among the first buildings in the United States to be air-conditioned.

Twenty-six hundred (2,600) yards of carpet for aisles, boxes, logs, approaches, mezzanine, stairs, and rest rooms. Electric fixtures for the entire house are plated with fourteen (14) karat gold, burnished, and ornamented with hand painted china. The balcony is supported by a five thousand five hundred (5,500) ton steel beam encased in concrete, and there are no columns or pillars. One million bricks were used in the construction of the balcony. The proscenium opening measures 48 x 26 feet and is the largest in the south. You may see the balcony design and structure as follows.

the-auditorium2

 

The lobby is noted for its marble floors, niches, tunnels, and promenades. The marquee extends the width of the building and has 15,000-watt capacity lamps, and on its underside, are a number of 75-watt day light globes. The outer lobby’s ceiling is the same height as the building, and is enriched with massive plaster designs in polychrome and antique with Chinese and cobalt blue, mulberry, green, and buff over aluminum leaf. There are sectional plate glass mirrors at each end to reflect the ceiling. On the left is a seven-foot fountain with running water and a figure of Cupid which is named “Cascatelle” for the river of many cataracts outside Tivoli, Italy. The floor is marble. It is lighted by a seven-foot hanging lantern in antique design. Glass doors lead to the inner lobby and the large plate glass window is hung with brilliant American Beauty plush draperies.

the-lobby

The grand staircase features ornamented bannisters of copper bronze surmounted by mahogany handrails.  Of course, the stairway leads to the balcony above.  You can see the auditorium and balcony, as pictured from the stage area in the digital below.

auditorium-from-the-stage

The mezzanine is the most beautiful section of the theater. It circles the auditorium and is the promenade. Its carpet is solid and it is furnished with chaise lounges and Adam designed chairs. It is known as “Villa D’Esta” after a famous villa at Tivoli, Italy. All openings are draped in silk with gold embroidery. The box seats are on either side of the auditorium and are truly beautiful.

box-seats

NOW THE MUSICAL:

My musical abilities are limited to playing the radio.  No piano, no guitar, no trumpet.  I can only listen, BUT I have an immense respect for talented individuals. Performers who can make a play, movie, musical come alive.  That is exactly what my wife and I saw last night during the CHICAGO performance.  I don’t know if you are familiar with the play but her are several specifics.

CHICAGO is a musical Vaudeville play that opened June 3, 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre.   It ran for 936 performances, closing on August 27, 1977.  The opening night cast starred Chita Rivera as Velma Kelly, Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart, Jerry Orbach as Billy Flynn and Barney Martin as Amos Hart. Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the “celebrity criminal.” You may think this is somewhat heavy but it is hilarious and the music is phenomenal.  Several recognizable songs are:

  • “All That Jazz”
  • “Cell Block Tango”
  • “When You’re Good to Mama”
  • “Roxie”
  • “Mister Cellophane”
  • “Razzle Daxxle”
  • “Hot Honey Rag”

One definite reason we wanted to go—Eddy George played the part of Billie Flynn.  As you recall, Eddy George was a Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State in 1995 and played for the Tennessee Titans for several years.  HE WAS GOOD. I know it is difficult to go from the NFL to the stage but he really pulled it off.   ALL of the performers were absolutely excellent.  The rolls of Roxie and Velma were played by Dylis Croman and Lana Gordon.  Amos, the husband of Roxie was played by Paul Vogt and Mama was played by Roz Ryan.  Are you ready for this?  All of the ladies in the cast sang and danced in high-heels never missing a step. If you ever get an opportunity to attend the musical CHICAGO—take it.  You will come away realizing it was a wonderful experience.

42,000 SQUARE FEET OF PAINT

January 20, 2016


Public Art Chattanooga decided to add a splash of color to the monolithic grey hulk of the AT&T building, located on the Southside of Chattanooga proper.  This building is a tall windowless structure resembling the “BORG” habitat detailed in several Star Trek episodes.  Not really appealing in any sense of the word.  When Public Art received permission to go forward, they called internationally respected artist Meg Saligman.  Meg was the obvious choice for the work.  This is her largest mural to date covering approximately 42,000 square feet.  It is definitely one of the five (5) largest murals in the country and the largest in the Southeastern part of the United States.

The ML King District Mural Project reinforces the critical role public art plays in lending a sense of place to a specific neighborhood, and certainly contributes to future neighborhood beautification and economic development efforts. The images and people in the mural are inspired by real stories, individuals, and the history of the neighborhood.  For approximately six (6) months, people living and visiting the Southside were interviewed to obtain their opinion and perspective as to what stories would be displayed by the mural.  The proper balance was required, discussed, and met, with the outcome being spectacular.

This is a Meg Saligman Studios project.  Co-Principal Artists are Meg Saligman and Lizzie Kripke. Lead Artists Hollie Berry and James Tafel Shuster. In 2006, Public Art Review featured Meg Saligman as one of the ten most influential American muralists of the past decade. She has received numerous awards, including the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program’s Visionary Artist Award, and honors from the National Endowment of the Arts, the MidAtlantic Arts Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Philadelphia’s Leeway Foundation.  Saligman has painted more than fifty murals all over the world, including Philadelphia, Shreveport, Mexico City, and now Chattanooga.  She has a way of mixing the classical and contemporary aspects of painting together. Prior to the M.L.K mural, Saligman’s most famous work is “Common Threads” located in the Philadelphia area. It is painted on the west wall of the Stevens Administrative Center at the corner of Broad and Spring Garden Streets. Other major works include “Philadelphia Muses” on 13th and Locust streets, a multimedia “Theatre of Life” on Broad and Lombard streets, “Passing Through”  over the Schuylkill Expressway, and the paint and LED light installation at Broad and Vine streets, “Evolving Face of Nursing”.  Saligman’s work can be viewed nationally in Shreveport, Louisiana, with “Once in a Millennium Moon”, and in Omaha, Nebraska, with “Fertile Ground.”

A key component of the M.L.K. Mural in Chattanooga was the local apprentice program offering an opportunity for local artists to work with the nationally recognized muralist and to learn techniques and methods for large scale projects such as this. From thirty-three (33) applicants, Meg interviewed and hired a team of six (6) locals who constituted an integral part of the program itself.  Each artist was hired for their artistic skill sets and their ability to work collaboratively as team members. Members of the local team are: 1.) Abdul Ahmad, 2.) Anna Carll, 3.) Rondell Crier, 4.) Shaun LaRose, 5.) Mercedes Llanos and 6.) Anier Reina.

Now, with that being said, let’s take a look.

Layout

From this digital photograph and the one below, you can get a feel for the scope of the project and the building the artwork is applied to.  As you can see, it’s a dull grey, windowless, concrete structure well-suited for such a face-lift.  Due to the height and size of the building, bucket trucks were used to apply the paint.

Basic Layout

The digital above shows a partially-filled mural.  The one below, if you look closely, shows the basic layout for the design above.

Layout (2)

The layout, of course, was developed on paper first with designs applied to quadrants on the building.  You can see some of the interacies of the process from the JPEG above.Layout

The planning for this project took the better part of one year due to the complexity and the layout necessary prior to initiating the project.  As I traveled down M.L.King Avenue, I would watch the progress in laying out the forms that would accept the colors and shades of paint.  In one respect, it was very similar to paint-by-numbers.  Really fascinating to watch the development of the artwork even prior to painting.

Allmost Finished

The completed mural covers all four (4) sides of the AT&T building and as you can see from the JPEG below—it is striking.


Completed Mural

This gives you one more reason to visit Chattanooga.  As always, I welcome your comments.

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