DECORATIVE BRIDGE RAILINGS AT KING COMMONS – PART II

IMG_20171221_095055087
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.

IMG_20171221_094515090
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.

IMG_20171221_094134210_HDR
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”.

IMG_20171221_140353711
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.

IMG_6302
Milkweed flowers “pop” from the center of a railing segment.

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

IMG_6296
Coneflower with a green backdrop. Do you see the bees on either side of the flower?
IMG_6291
Purple iris add another dimension of color.

IMG_6298

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

Advertisements

Decorative Bridge Railings at King Commons – Part I

IMG_8016

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.

jc-color.jpg
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!

IMG_7814
Rows of pickets are lined up after forming.
IMG_8015
The railing begins to take shape…do you see the bumblebee?
IMG_8021
A stack of  coneflowers prior to assembly.
IMG_8020
Life-like, feathery iris await their painting job.
IMG_7898
Getting the milkweed flowers just right.
IMG_8066
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!