This was public art at its most raw and enterprising core.
Peter Lundberg, an artist from Vermont, created this public art structure out of concrete. Its form: the earth’s crust. Its function: a tribute piece to honor the Chattanooga Fallen.
“We created this mound like many other berms around the park,” said Bill Chapin, the dedication ceremony’s narrator. “He used a track hoe to dig the form in the ground. It was then lined with visqueen (a plastic liner) and structural strength steel was placed in there so that the structure will have the strength to stand on its own and withstand any weather element.”
Two weeks passed as the concrete cured and torrential rains bathed the one exposed edge. Then the dirt surrounding the structure was hauled away, revealing the positive form. “These cables are going to hook to the crane, and in a moment we will have Wally from Mike Battery raise the United States flag, and we will ask all of y’all to join me in singing the national anthem,” said Chapin.
At first the monumental structure didn’t want to let go of its earthly tomb as gravity weighed heavily on the pieced named “Anchors.” The crane’s stabilizers and feet rocked loudly and teetered back and forth as machine and man worked together to tug it free and upright.
For a moment it felt like the massive cables would snap, leaving the art where it lay comfortably in the warm, dark earth. Then, the pulley system high in the air gained traction and dirt started to shed off as the concrete began to stand at attention.
“The base of the concrete will be buried so it will look like two spires reaching toward the heavens,” said Chapin. Service members and friends of the fallen looked on in amazement. Some even wondered aloud what it was.
“As a sculptor, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is what is it; I always respond that it is not what it is, it is what it does,” said John Henry, chair of the board for the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park.
“This morning we are witness to a great work of art built as a tribute to five great human beings who sacrificed their lives protecting all of us. We also recognize our community’s first responders who served and protect us each day,” said Henry.
Captain Chris Cotton of the Navy Operational Support Center on Amnicola Highway spoke, “To me, even though this is named “Anchors,” a very proper name in honor of our sea traditions, it goes beyond just us. It goes out to our first responders there that day.
“And to the citizens of Chattanooga that day, I was humbled by the outpouring of support they showed. I watched as thousands of people that felt the way we did were hurting for us, and I thank you for that,” said Capt. Cotton.
Dirty and sweaty after wrestling with his creation, Peter Lundberg said, “The stories I just heard break my heart. I’m a very emotional person, so I’m crying inside right now. I’m very proud to be here and be with you all, and making this piece was a tremendous experience for me. It was heartwarming when the service members came out repeatedly to watch the process, because as you can see, this is a lot about process, and it’s very dirty.
“My sculpture can’t do anything to bring back those lives we lost, but the word ‘celebration’ is appropriate and we celebrate their lives in the best way we can. We can do this by going forward and being the best we possibly can,” said Lundberg.
For more information, go to Facebook or SculptureFields.org.
Catch a Train at the Sculpture Fields
Those wanting to see the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park in person have a perfect opportunity on October 8 at 5:30 p.m. That’s when a train from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum will pull into the Sculpture Fields depot to pick up passengers for an enchanting dinner, entertainment and cocktail excursion. Tickets are limited so make your reservation now.
It’s a fundraiser for the Sculpture Fields. “The event will raise money and awareness for the 33-acre international and extraordinarily unique sculpture park. It will also give a select few an experience they’ll not soon forget,” said Cathy Clifford, executive director of the Sculpture Fields.
Tickets to the event are $200 per person and include cocktails at the depot home of Pamela and John Henry, an on-board Ambassador’s Challenge and scenic tour of Chattanooga, while enjoying a Latin-inspired dinner with cocktails served aboard the train.
If that isn’t enough, there will also be one of a kind entertainment provided by sculptor and chef STRETCH, who has been featured on the Food Network and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. STRETCH has toured with Guy Fieri on his 21-city Foodapalooza Roadshow showcasing his custom 25-gallon monster margarita machine.
This is the third year for the excursion, which was sold out last year. You can catch the Tennessee Valley Museum Train on October 8 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sculpture Fields, 1100 E. 16th St. The event has limited seating, so reservations will be made on a first come, first served basis. Call (423) 266-7288 or email Cathy at email@example.com.
The park will be open free to the public on weekends beginning November 21. Grand opening is scheduled for spring 2016. For images of all works currently in the park, visit sculpturefields.org. For more information on STRETCH, go to stretchsculpture.com.
by Michelle Michaud