A new exhibit at the Hunter Museum of American Art highlights some of the city's outdoor sculptures in their earliest forms. "Open 24 Hours" invites thought on how an object and its placement can change a viewer's perception of a space since public art is meant to respond to the environment for which it is designed and engage its audience on a large scale.
Featured are the indoor works -- prints, preparatory drawings, maquettes and watercolors -- by the artists responsible for several local landmarks, along with other major American sculptors, including Dennis Oppenheim, Mark di Suvero and Richard Hunt.
The Hunter's collection of outdoor sculptures includes some as close as the garden outside the museum and others sited around the city.
Oppenheim's "Arriving Home," for instance, commands the corner of Miller Plaza at Market Street and M.L. King Boulevard.
“Arriving Home,” a sculpture by Dennis Oppenheim at Miller Plaza in downtown Chattanooga, is among the public installations in the Hunter Museum of Art collection. The 2007 piece is constructed of steel, Lexan (a thermoplastic), perforated metal and rainbow acrylic. It measures 12 feet high by 12 feet wide by 5 feet deep.Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Hannah Legg, director of communications for the Hunter, says the artist proposed the piece because of Miller Plaza's popularity and central location in downtown as a site visible to people as they travel home from work.
The piece "blurs the boundaries between architecture and sculpture by incorporating a loop that ends in a house-shaped form that refers to one's tether to home and family," she explains. "The piece also encapsulates the circular rhythms of traveling. Both departure and arrival are crystallized in this colorful metallic spiral made of steel and acrylic."
"The Troupe" at Chattanooga Zoo is Bart Walter's depiction of six slightly larger-than-life bronze chimpanzee figures in a traveling group. Each figure represents a member of a chimpanzee social structure: an elder matriarch, two mothers with their young and a dominant male.
Walter travels the world to observe wildlife as subjects for his sculptures. He followed chimpanzees in Uganda's Kibale forest in Africa before creating these pieces. The artist initially does numerous sketches and a working model of a sculpture, before sculpting the final large version in clay. The clay piece is then cast in bronze at a foundry.
Maps to outdoor sculptures around the city are available.
IF YOU GO
■ What: "Open 24 Hours."
■ When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, noon-5 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday.
■ Where: Hunter Museum of American Art, 10 Bluff View.
■ Admission: $9.95 adults, $4.95 children 3-17.
■ Phone: 423-267-0968.
■ Website: www.huntermuseum.org.