That’s the question that has been buzzing online in recent weeks in response to the plans to place a sculpture, entitled “Pier 865” in Country Music Park at the corner of Summit Hill and Gay. The sculpture, and more particularly its base, would, if placed as planned, require the removal of five healthy, mature trees. The trees include four willow oaks and one elm tree.
The sculpture itself, a work by French sculptor Marc Fornes, and fabricated by his THEVERYMANY company based in New York City, is completed and either ready to ship or has shipped. At $500,000, it is the most the city has paid for a piece of art. The art pictured at the front top of this article is Zephyr in Lubbock, Texas and is virtually identical to our piece, though theirs is slightly smaller.
There has been a good bit of criticism of the project recently. Some lament the lack of connection to the city or to country music. Others point to the irony of a metal canopy replacing an actual canopy. Suggestions have been made that the piece might be better suited for the World’s Fair Park.
In the end, the sculpture is most certainly, for better or worse, going to land in the intended spot. The local Sierra Club has proposed shifting it just a bit on the site in order to preserve the trees. With the planned installation looming this fall, there is resistance to a change of plans.
The argument for the trees, of course, is that mature trees in downtown are in relatively short supply and they add to the health of everyone by cleaning the air, even as they provide shade and help reduce the downtown temperature, which stays higher than surrounding areas due to the quantity of heat absorbing surfaces. While the city plants trees equal in total circumference whenever they cut trees, it would be decades before those saplings offered the same benefits as these older trees.
A group gathered last Friday evening to have a art exhibition/protest promotion the preservation of the trees. A petition was circulated on which people could register their support. If you’d like to sign that petition, urging City Council to support the resolution, you may do so here. 846 people have signed the petition so far.
The topic is up for discussion at City Council tonight because of a resolution brought by Councilpersons Seema Singh and Amelia Parker. They propose, “A Resolution to pause the Public Art Committee’s Sculpture Project for the Cradle of Country Music Park for six months to allow time for the City to determine a way to preserve the mature trees on the park.”