Creating Places: A Citizen Observer's Look at Nashville's Built Environment

Writer's Note: William Williams' interest in the manmade environment dates to 1970, at which point the then-young Williams started a collection of postcards of city skylines. The collection now numbers 1,000-plus cards. Among the writer's specific interests are exterior building design, city district planning, demographics, signage, mixed-use development, mass transit and green/sustainable construction and living. Williams began his Creating Places column with The City Paper in February 2005. The column in its original form was discontinued in September 2008 and reinvented via this blog in November 2008. Creating Places can be found on the home page of the website of The City Paper, at which Williams has worked in various capacities since October 2000.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Creating Places: Citizen Assessment

After about five or six viewings — each undertaken during my daily exercise walks — I've come to rate Citizen a 7.5. The two public art pieces, flanking the Metro Courthouse Public Square Park grounds on the southeast and southwest corners, are very acceptable additions to Nashville's painfully limited collection of civic art. And though my knowledge of art is no more significant than my understanding of the public education system in Iceland, I'll nonetheless provide a quick overview.

Here's what I like...

Nice verticality, with both the base and "human forms" creating a fairly suitable overall height
Metal base (very industrial feel with an almost mesh-like appearance)
Color scheme contrast between the base and human form
Interactive (people can turn the crank and see the human form move)
Appropriate number (one piece might have been awkward; three or more, excessive)
Placement related to the other elements of the Public Square
Interesting lighting elements for night-time viewing/visability

And what I don't like...

Material for the "human forms" (seems flimsy and impermanent)
Shape of the "human forms" (somewhat cartoonish)

No doubt, I would have preferred a more cutting-edge addition to this important civic space. Perhaps something a bit more futuristic and/or boldly lit. Still, Citizen will make a fine contribution to a public space that does, indeed, beckon all of Nashville citizens to enjoy.

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