Public Art Unveiled


The presence of public art in Johnson City, Tennessee is growing! Since the Johnson City Public Art (JCPA) committee was instituted in 2012, appointed members have established a cohesive and collaborative support group for public art within the City. This group, along with support from City staff and other citizens, has “unveiled” many exciting projects, many of which you will find throughout the downtown area.

Founders Park has been filled with several rounds of leased art sculpture since 2013, and a brand new round was installed in May of this year. Not sure where all the sculptures can be found? Visit and view the “Biennial Sculpture Exhibition” map. When you have a free moment, grab a warm drink and take a leisurely stroll through the park and downtown area, where you will find these unique art pieces that may amaze, inspire, and maybe even confuse you just a little!

The piece entitled Specimen by artist Joey Manson sits across the street from the old General Mills building at the western entrance to Founders Park. Manson states that this piece “abstracts a moment in a natural cycle of a plant emerging from dormancy”.

But wait, there’s much more to discover in downtown! Another exciting new piece is the mural at King Commons (the new park in front of the Johnson City Public Library) entitled Wildabout by artist Ian Brownlee. Brownlee spent much of the summer working on this masterpiece, and it is now complete! Filled with native flora and fauna as well as architectural landmarks from our area, the mural design provides you with a sense of place and is sure to capture your attention. Read more about Brownlee and his mural at

The mural Wildabout is located on a wall adjacent to the Atlantic Ale House and faces the new King Commons park.

In addition to the mural, the King Commons park will soon become home to another public work of art –hand-forged iron bridge rails! Designed and constructed by Jim Masterson and his team at the Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, these rails will showcase native flowers that play a large role in pollination in our region. Stay tuned – we’ll let you know when you can visit these in person!

Here’s a peek at one of the railings in progress that depicts beautifully crafted milkweed flowers. It will be painted before its installation.

Other fun projects are still ongoing. One of these involves wrapping traffic control boxes (those art-deprived large metal boxes that sit at road intersections with traffic lights) with art designed by local schoolchildren.

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Beside the Johnson City Public Library at the intersection of North Roan St. and Fairview Ave. you’ll find Mother Goose on the traffic control box – on a wrap designed by artist Cameron Poplarchik.

And there are more to come! A selection of boxes has been identified for future wrapping. Read more and find out how you can sponsor a box at

JCPA also assists citizens with community initiated art projects. A group of community members from the Tree Streets have undertaken a street mural project, which will involve painting the intersection of Pine and Cherry St. to aid in traffic calming (and, of course, it will also help to brighten the place up a bit!). Are you interested in starting up a public art project? Read more about the process at

Proposed Tree Street Design
The mock-up of the street mural that will be painted in the Tree Streets shows the bold splash of color that will be added to the project site.

Let’s see, so what else can we tell you about public art in Johnson City?? Well, suffice it to say, there’s more. There’s much more to see and as always, many more projects in the making! JCPA is also busy working on events to promote public art in our area. One of the most recent events was a sculpture walk to view and discuss the latest leased art sculptures. For a recap of this event, visit JCPA committee member Chasidy Hathorn’s blog Sweet Sorghum Living.

We’ll be back with more updates on events and projects, so stay in touch!  We’ll be bringing you details of JCPA’s first Splash: Fine Art and Craft Showcase Market that will take place Dec. 1-3 at the old JC Penney’s building downtown!

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