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City dedicates first permanent public artworks to grace greenway

City dedicates first permanent public artworks to grace greenway

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Dignitaries from the city of Concord, Atrium Health Cabarrus and Cabarrus Arts Council met at a microphone near a flooded marsh earlier this month to officially dedicate a new pair of artworks recently installed along the Hector Henry II Greenway.

The dedication was livestreamed for virtual attendance via Concord’s Facebook page (where the recording is visible). Concord Mayor Bill Dusch joined Chris Bowe, Atrium Health senior vice president and North Market president; and Noelle Scott, president and CEO of the Cabarrus Arts Council, in making brief remarks before the artworks’ unveiling. A handful of people attended, masked, and socially distant. Despite the foggy, grey morning, spirits were high. The realization of the two 9-foot tall art panels, in ¼” thick, corten steel, fulfills a years-long partnership effort.

Atrium Health Cabarrus, in celebration of its 80th anniversary, donated a generous gift to several local municipalities, including Concord, in 2017; its goal was to fund projects that would be of benefit to the cities and promote health and wellness. City leadership proposed the public artworks as an “Art on the Greenway” project to fulfill the hospital’s goal for the community project, and Atrium Health accepted. The Planning and Neighborhood Development Department and the Buildings & Grounds Department co-managed the project, enlisting ClearWater Arts Center & Studios.

With approval from the Concord Public Art Committee and funding from Atrium Health Cabarrus, ClearWater commissioned resident artists Walter Stanford, Paul Keysar and Gordon C. James to create images of birds found in the wetland near the Greenway. For fabrication, Jim Gallucci Sculptor, LLC, in Greensboro, consulted on the refinement of the computer images of the designs and handled the cutting and finishing. He provided an economical cost to complete two panels within the commemorative gift budget.

The large, rust-coated panels poetically depict two bird species: the soft flight of a Snowy Egret over water, by Paul Keysar, and the commanding gaze of a Barred Owl from tangled branches by Walter Stanford. (The third design, Great Blue Heron by James, should be funded soon via other sources.) These are the first works of public art for these artists.

At the dedication, the mayor thanked all parties involved, with a nod to the work of the Public Art Committee. “We know what a powerful positive force public art is, for the economic and cultural life of a city,” he said. “These artworks will withstand the elements for many years while enhancing the experience for those on this Greenway. They signify the beauty of the wildlife living in the Wetlands area.” He congratulated the hospital for a “fine investment in citizen health.”

“Atrium Health is excited to partner with the city of Concord for this very special initiative to add even more beauty to the Hector Henry II Greenway while celebrating the hospital’s 80th anniversary,” said Bowe. “As we invest in our community together for health, hope and healing for all, we find that these public spaces are an opportunity for us to gather safely, celebrate nature and celebrate Dr. Henry, who gave so much to the hospital, his patients and his community.”

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