Decorative Bridge Railings at King Commons – Part I


The much-anticipated artistic bridge rails have finally been installed on three bridges at King Commons! These beautiful railings were designed and forged by a talented and creative team of artists at the Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. The work was commissioned early in 2017 after a selection committee gathered to review qualifications of more than 40 project applicants. The proposal submitted by Jim Masterson and his colleagues was accepted and the magic began.

The railing designs were largely based on several themes that are interwoven throughout the park at King Commons, which relate to conservation, pollination, and storm water mitigation. The major theme represented by the railings is pollination, as designer Kacy Ganley explains that a portion of the railing design is “emulating the flight of the bee”. Hand forged native flowers add an additional dimension of color and artistic flair to the railing design, with milkweed, iris, and coneflowers included in many of the railing sections.

The preliminary sketches for the railings reveal four bees in the design, flying across the length of the segment. Native flora is represented in the middle section (this sketch depicts the milkweed flower).

The theme of pollination aligns with the current “What’s the Buzz” program, a partnership between the Johnson City community and East Tennessee State University which focuses on the promotion and development of pollinator-friendly public spaces. Native plants like those included in the railing design are vital to the survival of bees and other pollinators, and are especially important as pollinators are experiencing a decline in numbers due to pesticide use, habitat loss, climate change, and other factors.

The bright blue color of the railings is representative of the network of waterways in the area and the flood mitigation efforts that were undertaken through the construction of King Commons. Ganley tells us that the color also emulates similar shades of blue that were utilized in Ian Brownlee’s mural at King Commons, providing a sense of cohesiveness throughout the artistic elements in the park.

The process leading up to installation was long but rewarding. Fortunately, the Metal Museum kept us posted on progress along the way, allowing us to get an inside peek at the railing’s construction. And their photographs really tell the story!

Rows of pickets are lined up after forming.
The railing begins to take shape…do you see the bumblebee?
A stack of  coneflowers prior to assembly.
Life-like, feathery iris await their painting job.
Getting the milkweed flowers just right.
A fully assembled railing segment showcases the milkweed flower.

We’ll be bringing you more on the railings in our next post along with photos of the completed bridge rails in their permanent locations at King Commons, so check back with us soon!

Dive in to the “Splash: Fine Art and Craft Showcase Market”!

Splash Ad

Are you scrambling to find those perfect holiday gifts for your family and friends? If so, we might be able to help out! The Splash: Art and Craft Showcase Market will be coming to downtown Johnson City just in time for the holidays. Join us for some light refreshments while you shop for unique gifts made by local artisans.

The market will be held at the old JC Penney building on Dec. 1st – 3rd:

309 E. Main St.

Dec. 1st: 12 – 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 2nd: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Dec. 3rd: 12 – 5 p.m.

JC Penney Building
So…where exactly is the old JC Penney building? It’s located on E. Main St. to the left of the Hands On! Museum.

A wide variety of fine arts and crafts will be available at the market. You are sure to find something to please everyone on your list!

Avigdor Storm Clearing Over the Blur Ridge
Photographer David Avigdor will offer high quality matted prints and framed, matted prints of his stunning photos.
Karlota Contreras-Kotterbay earings
Give beautiful accessories this holiday season – stop by artist Karlota Contreras-Kotterbay’s table and check out her handmade jewelry!
Bee Locke spoonspatula
Look for the BeeSymmetry Pyrography table to find a wide array of high quality and intricately hand-burned items including jewelry, kitchen utensils, keepsake boxes, photo frames, inspirational signs and wall art!
Denise Pritchard 50 Cal pen
Oh the wonders of wood! Artist Denise Pritchard’s turned wood bowls, pens, kitchen items, wood keepsake boxes, jewelry boxes and tables will be available at the market.
cari muse block print textile
Artist Cari Muse specializes in block-printing textiles. You’ll find her work on table runners, cloth napkins, kitchen towels, card sets, t-shirts, and more.
Courtney Farquharson block print
For detailed, hand pulled linoleum block prints, stop by Courtney Farquharson’s table with her exquisite handmade cards and hand-printed notebooks.

These are just a handful of the artists and items that will be available at the Splash market, so make sure to come by and see the rest! All proceeds from this event will go directly to the arts and crafts makers. And a silent auction (shhh!) with artworks from participating artists will take place all weekend with proceeds benefiting Johnson City Public Art (JCPA).

The Splash market is free and open to the public, so stop by and get ready for the holidays!

For more information contact Nancy Fischman at or Sarah Dorr at

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!