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Downtown Winston-Salem gets new public artwork at Fourth and Spruce streets

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At the corner of Fourth and Spruce streets near Link Apartments 4th Street is a new public artpiece called “Resilience — Still I Rise,” a steel sculpture featuring beams, vines and leaves.

A base and bricks were being installed Friday and a compass that will go in the middle of the beams will be added by Wednesday.

“Resilience — Still I Rise” was commissioned by the City of Winston-Salem and Grubb Properties, a real estate investment and development company based in Charlotte with a corporate office on Fifth Street in Winston-Salem.

Along with Link Apartments 4th Street, Grubb Properties has two other properties in Winston-Salem — Link Apartments Brookstown on Peters Creek Parkway and Link Apartments Innovation Quarter on Patterson Avenue.

“Grubb Properties has always been a supporter of public and private art and look to incorporate it at our communities to enhance the neighborhoods we are in,” Emily Ethridge, corporate communications director for Grubb Properties, said in an email.

She said that developing its Link Apartments communities gives the company the opportunity to form partnerships with local public arts commissions to support new public art pieces.

“We feel that having a noteworthy piece of public art near our building makes it more attractive and appealing to residents, visitors and others enjoying the community,” Ethridge said. “Grubb Properties’ first public art partnership was with the Greenville, S.C., Public Art Commission in 2017.”

Years in the making

In October 2018, Grubb Properties presented the project idea to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Public Art Commission.

“We tried something new with this,” said Kelly Bennett, project planner for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Planning & Development Services Department. “A lot of people think if you are a public art sculptor that you are a one-stop shop. You will design a sculpture, and that you will have a big studio to build this. But that’s not always the case. A lot of times, somebody will come up with an idea, (and) then, depending on what the materials are, they will work with a specialized fabricator to make the piece.”

To reach local people who had ideas or a sculpture design but perhaps didn’t realize they would not have to build the piece themselves, the Public Art Commission looked for artists to submit preliminary designs.

Then the Public Art Commission chose a design that members liked that was artistically excellent and would allow them to find a fabricator to build the artwork.

Mona King, an artist, designer and interior architect in Winston-Salem, came up with the favored design.

After receiving proposal applications to build the project, the Public Art Commission chose King, who also applied on the fabrication side of the project.

“She wasn’t going to build it, but she had reached out to several fabricators around the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County area and decided she would manage the project and they would build it,” Bennett said.

Jane Doub, a member of the Public Art Commission representing Forsyth County, was on the selection committee.

She said King brought with her a strong team of other artisans who could help bring her vision to reality.

“There were lots of components to it,” Doub said.

The city and Grubb Properties split the $47,000 cost of the sculpture.

Last Wednesday, the largest part of the sculpture was installed downtown.

“We’re really happy to get a local artist to make this design and make it come to fruition,” Bennett said. “This will be something good for her as she continues to grow as an artist. Now, she has an excellent portfolio piece and hopefully it allows her to prove that experience and apply for more public art projects.”

Doub spoke of what the sculpture means for the community.

“I think it will be another unique thing for downtown,” Doub said. “It encompasses so much of what all of us want and think about for downtown and Winston-Salem.

“She (King) wanted to incorporate words on the piece that were inspiring to all and give an idea of what Winston-Salem is about these days — hopefully moving forward. Some towns seem to be stuck with an image and an idea, and Winston-Salem keeps reinventing itself.”

Doub said another major piece installed soon will be good for the local area.

“The more variety we can offer our visitors as well as our citizens will enhance the city and the county,” Doub said.

A collaborative piece

The sculpture is roughly 12 feet, 6 inches tall and 5 by 8 feet wide.

There are four, large corten steel beams that are leaning.

“They are the basic support for the largest part of the structure,” said King, who is also the owner of Mona + Associates Design LLC.

She said the sculpture will change colors over time because the corten steel will turn a rust color.

“That was intentional because I want change,” she said.

Around the beams are vines representing growth and red oak leaves, representing North Carolina.

On the beams are six words — education, science, technology, city of arts, innovation and business.

The compass part of the piece, in between the beams, is 21 inches in diameter and will be surrounded by brick pavers.

“Our intention is that people can actually walk onto it,” King said.

King said the sculpture was designed to represent the past, current and future state for the city and community.

“When I moved here, we were very much textile-based,” King said. “I’ve been here 31 years now, and we’re moving into technology, medicine and innovation. I just want to make sure ‘City of Arts’ is not lost in that, and I wanted to represent everyone that has made Winston the way it is because it’s built on a lot of industries.”

The title of the sculpture represents the challenges of the past as well as the growth and development in Winston-Salem, King said on her website at monaart.wixsite.com/resilience.

“We are a city in a continuous improvement process of building an inclusive community in Arts, Science, Education, Innovation, Technology, and other key areas,” she said. “Some will see the structure as falling or columns not yet standing tall. This is the process of growth and disruption. Like nature, a city must go through rebirth to come back stronger and better.”

“It also represents resilience,” she added. “I strongly relate to all it represents.”

“Resilience — Still I Rise” is a collaborative piece. King’s core team consisted of Metalmorphosis Inc., the fabricator; Paul Spainhour, metal working; Drew Gerstmyer, metal sculptor; Meade Willis of Select Engineering PLLC, structural engineer. Gerstmyer is making the compass for the project.

Ethridge said Grubb Properties’ local supplier Davidson Steel Services donated four 12-foot steel beams for the project.

336-727-7366

@fdanielWSJ

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