published Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Sculpture expected to inspire Glass Street improvement

Virginia based artist Charlie Brouwer talks to the media Monday afternoon about a project he has been brought in to do with the Glass House Collective and Public Art Chattanooga titled Rise Up Chattanooga. Glass House Collective is a group working toward the revitalization of Glass Street in Chattanooga. This is one of the plans to bring more visitors to Glass Street.The collective is accepting any sort of ladder as a donation for the sculpture which will be built Feb. 16-23.
Virginia based artist Charlie Brouwer talks to the media Monday afternoon about a project he has been brought in to do with the Glass House Collective and Public Art Chattanooga titled Rise Up Chattanooga. Glass House Collective is a group working toward the revitalization of Glass Street in Chattanooga. This is one of the plans to bring more visitors to Glass Street.The collective is accepting any sort of ladder as a donation for the sculpture which will be built Feb. 16-23.
Photo by Connor Choate.

To participate in Rise Up Chattanooga

Ladders may be dropped off at Glass House Collective from 1 to 7 p.m. every day until Feb. 22. People who can't deliver ladders may call 402-0565 for pickup service. The ladders will be returned after March 25.

Glass House Collective launched block parties, neighborhood workshops and architectural design sessions to uplift the Glass Street community.

The latest venture will be a temporary neighborhood ladder sculpture posted on a vacant lot near the corner of Glass and Awtry streets.

Rise Up Chattanooga, as the sculpture will be called, will stand only for a month after it's been constructed.

The achievement isn't solely in the finished work but also in the process, said Charlie Brouwer, a Virginia-based artist whom Glass House commissioned to do the sculpture.

"If we can get a whole community engaged in borrowing and lending ladders to create this temporary structure that represents them, their individual hopes and dreams leaning on each other supporting each other, holding each other up, then we'll have a picture of the community," he said.

The goal is for every household, business, school and organization in Chattanooga to show support for the improvement of Glass Street by donating ladders to the project. As Glass Street rises up, so does the entire Chattanooga community.

Brouwer will begin building the temporary sculpture on Saturday. It is expected to be complete on Feb. 23.

The sculpture will stand until March 25. Then Brouwer will dismantle it and return the ladders to their owners. The fact that the ladders get returned is another way of fostering unity and trust in the community, he said.

He's already been visiting schools and businesses to explain the project. So far he's collected an orange and black tiger-striped ladder and colorful ladders decorated with handprints from Chattanooga School of the Arts and Sciences. He's got a wooden ladder from Big Buff's Barbecue and a miniature ladder made by people who are homeless.

All were on display for Monday's news conference, where the project was explained.

Glass House accepts any kind of ladder. It could be a step stool, a ladder that somebody made out of any material, even a bird cage ladder, said Brouwer.

A sculpture will be made out of any amount of ladders given. There is no set number needed, said Brouwer. The hope is to have as many as possible as a symbol of community participation.

It's a way of joining to create this image of community that depends on all of its parts supporting each other.

"Art can play a role in inspiring and releasing things," he said. "It does something to reach the spirit of things."

Charles Spencer, a Glass Street area resident of 10 years, shuffled along the street near the office of the Glass House Collective, the office established about a year ago for the revitalization of Glass Street, and then he brought out his own ladder to use in the sculpture.

"It's looking better by the day," he said about the Glass Street community. "They're trying to build this community up and I want to help."

He said he hopes the neighborhood revitalization brings more places in walking distance of Glass Street where his grandchildren can play.

Rise Up Chattanooga gives people opportunity to contribute to a portrait of the Glass Street community, said Katherine Currin, director of Glass House Collective.

"By lending their ladders people show that they do care about this part of the city and by improving this corner of the city, it is going to improve our city as a whole."

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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