Skyon Tryon 2014
Charlotte, North Carolina
Temporary Public Art Installation on the underside of the I -277/ North Tryon
Funding by National Endowment for the Arts: Our Town Grant
In early 2013, Sheila Klein was commissioned as part of the City of Charlotte’s public art program to create a public art project integrated with the new North Tryon street scape project which will be completed in 2016. As part of this project, Klein was asked to develop and interim artwork for the area. The goal of the interim artwork was to allow her to explore issues to inform her permanent project and to provide the North Tryon corridor with a project that would serve as an immediate catalyst for the area improvement while the street scape is being designed and constructed. Sheila Klein’s concept for the project was developed during her residency at the McCall Center for Visual Art. During this time she met with many North Tryon Corridor stakeholders to understand the visions and needs of this area. Enhancements to underpasses around downtown Charlotte are called out as an objective of Center City Partners 2020 Vision Plan. Painting of this particular bridge was also called out as a potential project in the Charlotte Mecklenburg 2002 Public Art Master Plan. The project was initially reviewed by both North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) in Fall of 2013 and received preliminary approval. The project was then approved by the Public Art Commission on March 18, 2014 and by Charlotte City Council on April 14, 2014.
Skyon Tryon is under the freeway close to the McColl Center and Innovation Institute. Located under the bridge between 11th and 12th on North Tryon, the work is painted on the horizontal ribs that form the freeway structure. The ribs are a series of linear elements providing a place to draw the circular center form. The blue paint color is safety zone blue and creates a center in the underpass. The color blue references the sky and defines the volume of the space. The light center accentuates the form: is it a sun or an outlet, a window or a slot? This atmospheric piece exudes a brighter, cleaner, crisper place. It adds a simple layer to the experience of passing under the bridge. When I stayed at 715 Church Street Condominium, I walked to the site for which I will be making a permanent artwork. The walk was short and very unpleasant. This gave me the idea to begin the process of linking North Tryon to the center city.
This project serves to make you aware that while the city is being developed as a new corridor to the north, pedestrian and bicyclists experience on the roadway is equally important to vehicular traffic. This art intervention is something to think about, to see, and sense. My hope is that Skyon Tryon will serve to expand the thinking about art, place, and structures– both what they are and what they can be.
The process of this piece includes many participants that were organically involved in the project: Charlotte Painting and Ali Bahnmeyer provided support on site to the artist. City staff from numerous departments were involved in the evolution and permitting of this work. The multitude and variety of passerby’s passing through the roadway with their colorful garb, comments, and questions helped establish a context for the work as I used the underpass as my street-side studio. The friends I made during my tenure in Charlotte Summer-Fall 2013 were available to me as resources for the work. Within my art practice, this work has given me a chance to study and experiment with a large-scale idea in a temporary context.