June 21 2013
Public Art Walking Tour
Immersing yourself in art is easy (and free!) in Chattanooga thanks to a strong investment in public art. There are numerous installations throughout the city, many of which rotate throughout the year. Reason #357 you should book multiple trips each year to our fine city. Disclaimer: this also means some of the art featured below may be gone by the time you visit.
Several neighborhoods feature public art (downtown, Southside, Northshore, the Riverwalk) but we’re focusing on where it all began: downtown. Our obsession with alfresco art started with the 21st Century Waterfront Project, which included the light masts on Riverfront Pier, The Passage and the River Gallery Sculpture Garden
For maximum viewing potential we’ve created this handy little map and a sneak peak of what to expect at each stop.
A: River Gallery Sculpture Garden
Situated on the cliffs above the Tennessee River, the River Gallery Sculpture Garden is internationally recognized with a listing in a prestigious worldwide directory and named in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens. Permanent and rotating collections are displayed among perfectly manicured landscaping maintained by master gardeners.
B: Bluff View Arts District
Art is so ingrained in Bluff View that they have sculptures clinging to walls and peeking at you from the bushes. Meander past Tony’s Pasta Shop, Rembrandt’s and The Back Inn Café to see how many pieces you can count. Don’t miss “Continuum” (above, middle) perched on the Bluff View Overlook. It offers impressive views just beyond its winding, stainless steel shape.
C: Hunter Museum of American Art
It’s fitting so many pieces of art are parked in front of Chattanooga’s premier art museum. Once you take the free cell phone tour outside (look for signs underneath the sculptures), walk inside to experience one of the country’s finest indoor collections of American art. The collection of the Hunter Museum spans the history of American art from the colonial period to the present day.
D: Walnut Street Bridge/First Street
Walk across the translucent blue bridge (aka, Ruth Holmberg Pedestrian Bridge) and you’re greeted by one of Chattanooga’s friendliest pups, who’s usually sporting different neckwear each time. The steep walk down First Street features several pieces on the lawns of swanky apartment complexes.
E: Market Street Bridge/The Passage
Market Street Bridge is dominated by four larger-than-life bronze statues by local artist Daud Akhriev, which represent the four seasons. Spring and Summer are along the route (south end) as well as this circular brick sculpture (bottom, left). Continue underneath the bridge for a glimpse of The Passage – a tribute to Chattanooga’s original citizens (Cherokee Indians) and the origin of the Trail of Tears.
F: Riverfront Parkway
The Riverwalk deserves its own post, but several gems are located in front of the Aquarium, including Rail Wave by D.C. artist Christopher Fennell and the Riverwalk’s metal mile markers by local artist Jim Collins. This riverside path parallels the Tennessee River from the Chickamauga Dam to Ross's Landing Park in Downtown Chattanooga.
G: Light Masts on Riverfront Pier
Seven, 40-foot-tall light masts dominate The Chattanooga Pier, which extend 160 feet into the river and serve as a beacon welcoming people to the Riverfront. New York artist Jamie Carpenter designed the iconic pieces, installed in 2005.
H: Broad Street
The bright yellow oars of this Landing sculpture signify Chattanooga’s strategic location on the Tennessee River – a transit hub for people, goods and information for more than 200 years. It, along with the brick boat in front of Big River, is part of the city’s permanent collection.
For a printable public art walking map, click here.