DECORATIVE BRIDGE RAILINGS AT KING COMMONS – PART II

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Lewis Body, Blacksmithing Apprentice (left), and Jim Masterson, Shop Foreman (right), in the midst of installing the artistic bridge rails at King Commons in downtown Johnson City.

On an overcast day in late December, Lewis Body, Jim Masterson, and Kacy Ganley traveled to Johnson City from the Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee to begin installation of the artistic bridge rails at King Commons. Together, they placed each heavy section of railing at three different locations throughout the park. After the main components were locked in place, the floral embellishments were attached, adding an exciting burst of color to the railing design.

During a short break from the installation, Body, Masterson, and Ganley were kind enough to answer some of our questions about their experiences with designing and fabricating this unique railing.  Body designed the railing and had taken the lead on its fabrication. When we inquired about the inspiration behind the railing design, Body indicated that he was influenced by several factors – the park’s focus on storm water mitigation, the themes present in the new mural at King Commons, and the general atmosphere and architecture surrounding the site. The blue color that was chosen for the coating was drawn from the shade of blue used in the mural and is meant to represent the waterways of Brush Creek. The paint colors used for the coneflower, iris, and milkweed flowers were custom mixed in house at the Metal Museum in Memphis.

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Clamps help to hold the railing in place before it is bolted to the ground.

Masterson commented that one of the most difficult aspects of the project involved aligning the railing layout with the actual layout of the park. He specified that “tracking the different curves” and the “logistics – the building of the whole” arose as challenges.

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The bridge railing mimics the shades of blue in the waterways of Ian Brownlee’s mural “Wildabout”.

Body and the team agreed that one of the most exciting parts of the project had been “the challenge of getting it right”. He explained that they enjoyed “fitting [the railing] into its home – where it’s going to be”.

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Set-up is underway…

Masterson, Ganley, and Body have been involved in the fabrication of railings, gates, sculptures, and doors during their time at the Metal Museum. Their pieces are found throughout the southeast but range as far as California and Hawaii.

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Milkweed flowers “pop” from the center of a railing segment.

Now, we can enjoy their work right here in Johnson City.

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Coneflower with a green backdrop. Do you see the bees on either side of the flower?
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Purple iris add another dimension of color.

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Next time your downtown, stop by King Commons and check out the beautiful work completed by these talented artists and craftsmen!

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