Edmondson Park dedication officially opens city's first arts park
August 20, 2014
Renovated Park Space Honors Legendary Sculptor, Houses New Installations from Dial, Holley
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, joined by Metro Arts Commission and MDHA, today dedicated the revitalized Edmondson Park, a space that serves as the city's first arts park. The opening of the park celebrates both the arts in Nashville and urban redevelopment that is occurring here.
The urban park is located on Charlotte Avenue between 16th Avenue North and 17th Avenue North and is managed by the Metro Development Housing Agency (MDHA). The park was reimagined through a multi-year community process. The landscape design was completed by Hawkins Partners Inc. and creates a "front porch" for the John Henry Hale homes that includes a walking path and free play areas that were envisioned by the neighborhood during community input sessions.
The park is named in honor of William Edmondson (1874-1951), a Nashville native and recognized sculptor, who was the first African American artist to have a solo exhibition (1937) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
To honor Edmondson's legacy, the park design also includes new installations by internationally known, self-taught artists Thornton Dial and Lonnie Holley, whose sculptures are titled "Road to the Mountaintop," and "Supported by the Ancestors," respectively. The other permanent installation is "The Gathering" by Bell Buckle artist Sherri Warner Hunter, originally created in 2001 for the Oasis Center, which is now located across the street from the park in the Youth Opportunity Center.
"The renovated Edmondson Park is a great addition to the evolving Charlotte Avenue corridor," Mayor Dean said. "It adds new green space for nearby residents and businesses, as well as a place dedicated to public art that the entire community can enjoy."
Mayor Dean was joined at the ceremony by Metropolitan Nashville Council members Erica Gilmore (19th District), who represents the neighborhood, and Ronnie Steine, an at-large member of the Council; Jim Harbison, executive director of MDHA; and Metro Arts Director Jennifer Cole.
Edmondson Park is the first and only space where both Dial and Holley have public art installations. Their individual works with found objects have garnered both men international acclaim.
Dial's work has been shown at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art, along with exhibits at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts here, the High Museum in Atlanta and the Museum of Art in New Orleans. Holley's work has also been exhibited at the Smithsonian and High museums, as well as the American Folk Art Museum in New York and The White House in Washington, D.C.
"It is always exciting to add to our growing public art collection, but to open our first park dedicated to public art with this outstanding trio of artists is especially gratifying," said Jennifer Cole, executive director of the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission. "The art of Thornton Dial and Lonnie Holley are a direct link to the work of William Edmondson, and Sherri Warner Hunter's piece exemplifies this park - a place to come together, to gather and celebrate community through art."
The park project is supported in part by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds administered by MDHA, an ArtWorks grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Metro Arts One-Percent-for-Art Public Art Program.
"This new park perfectly complements the work that MDHA has done with redevelopment of the John Henry Hale apartments," said Jim Harbison, executive director of MDHA. "It will further enhance this neighborhood and it provides a great gathering place for residents."
Beyond the park, the Ayer's Institute for Teacher Learning and Innovation at Lipscomb University has created a series of classroom lesson plans based on the public art in the park and Edmondson's life that are available at publicart.nashville.gov. Additionally, Cheekwood Botanical Gardens & Museum of Art will honor the artist through an exhibit that opens Sept. 27 and a series of community programs this fall entitled, William Edmondson and Friends: Breaking the Mold.
About the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts)
The Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission is a commission of the Metropolitan Nashville Government, provides leadership that stimulates and advances the arts to enrich the human experience for the community. Metro Arts receives operational support from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and additional information is available online at www.artsnashville.org.
About the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency
The Metro Development and Housing Agency administers a variety of urban and community development projects, works to increase the availability of affordable housing, and leads and supports revitalization efforts in downtown and neighborhoods throughout the city.