I’m Elizabeth Alley and I make lists.
I’m also Director of Public Art at UrbanArt and an artist, so I thought I’d start here with part 1 of a series of lists about public art and why it is important.
Public art helps to heighten the awareness of our city’s rich cultural heritage.
1. Tom Lee Memorial in Tom Lee Park
This bronze sculpture by David Alan Clark tells the story of local hero Tom Lee in a powerful way. The artist purposefully put the viewers eye at water level, as though he is the drowning man to whom Tom Lee is extending his hand. Visitors and residents alike use Tom Lee Park regularly, and having not just an explanation of the park’s name, but an iconic work of art showcases our pride in this shared heritage.
2. Soulsville Murals on Bellevue between Lamar and Walker
Local artist Arnold Thompson created this amazing tribute to Stax musicians that also helps identify the area.
3. Trolley Stop at Madison and Orleans
Artist Jeanne Seagle designed the mosaic columns for this stop, highlighting some of the more obvious and less obvious aspects of our heritage. The column to the west depicts portraits of Sun Studio musicians (Sun Studio is right around the corner) such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. The column to the east shows early teachers from the Memphis College of Art, including Burton Callicott and Dorothy Sturm, because the school started in that area as the Memphis Academy of Arts.
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