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The Bessie Tribute Public Art Committee seeks artistic qualifications from Black artists to design, fabricate and install a sculptural marker and tribute to Bessie Smith at the Blue Goose Hollow trailhead in Chattanooga, TN.
Eligibility: Professional Black artists over 18
The Committee would like to recognize and celebrate Black history in Chattanooga by highlighting American Blues Singer and famed Chattanoogan, Bessie Smith. The committee also seeks to commemorate Bessie’s life in historic Blue Goose Hollow, a neighborhood once home to over 1,400 people and erased with the demolition of over 1,100 buildings during urban renewal. While the marker should provide and interpret historically accurate details it should also reflect the spirit and character of Black Chattanooga and Bessie herself. For more information about the Bessie Smith Cultural Center visit: http://www.bessiesmithcc.org/.
Blue Goose Hollow is a relatively new trailhead access point in the Tennessee Riverpark (completed in 2016). Consisting of fourteen miles of paved, scenic, urban greenway that follows the curve of the Tennessee River, the Riverpark connects downtown Chattanooga to Chickamauga Dam to the north and Lookout Mountain to the south. Used by cyclists, joggers, skaters and walkers, the popularly named “Riverwalk” connects neighborhoods and business districts within Chattanooga and Hamilton County via numerous trailheads. In 2017, the artwork, “Resurgence: A Statement of Celebration” by Albert Paley was completed and installed as an iconic gateway entry to the Riverwalk, bringing color and energy to the newly completed trailhead park. The pair of sculptures are a material representation of Blue Goose Hollow’s industrial past with a symbolic and dynamic reach towards the future, creating an iconic presence on Chattanooga’s west side. The sculptures are abstract in nature, and while they give prominence to the Blue Goose Hollow trailhead, they do not provide interpretive context for the rich Black history that has since been erased from the site.
About Bessie Smith
As a pioneer for the genre, Bessie was known as “Empress of the Blues”. Her influence on the direction of American music and her contribution to the success of Black performing artists is significant. She was born in Chattanooga in 1894 and was one of the most gifted blues performers of her time. As a Grammy Lifetime Achievement recipient and one of the most iconic Black women of the 20th century, Bessie deserves a lasting tribute in her hometown and specifically in the location of her childhood neighborhood, Blue Goose Hollow.
Since the completion of the Blue Goose Hollow trailhead, the neighboring development, Cameron Harbor, has experienced rapid growth and expanded enough to warrant the extension of MLK Blvd. directly into the park. This creates a number of opportunities for the prominent siting of the Bessie Smith & Blue Goose Hollow artistic marker either in the park itself (Site Option 1) or adjacent to the park entrance at MLK Blvd and Riverfront Parkway (MLK Site Option 2). Artists may also choose an alternative site with a strong rationale tied to the proposed final design.
What to Submit
Please do not submit paper materials in plastic covers, binders, or folders. Use only paper clips to bind your materials. Please write your name on the outside of the envelope.
How to Submit
Electronic submission is preferred. Email email@example.com with a link to a Google Drive or Dropbox Folder labeled with the artist’s full name and containing all the required images and documents listed above and labeled appropriately.
Hard copy submission is acceptable, with a combination of paper materials and a flash drive for images. Please do not submit paper materials in plastic covers, binders, or folders. Use only paper clips to bind your materials. Please write your name on the outside of the envelope. Mail your hard copy submission to:
200 E. MLK Blvd.
Chattanooga TN 37403
QUESTIONS? Contact Paula Wilkes at (423) 266-8658 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org
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