GREENSBORO, NC (May 12, 2021) – The Downtown Greenway is pleased to invite the community to celebrate two milestones in the history of the Downtown Greenway. On Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 11:00 am, a new major work of public art will be dedicated and the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Final Mile will take placeat the WestWoods site at 501 Guilford Avenue.
From its earliest planning stages, Downtown Greenway coordinators determined that visually appealing public art of various types and scale would be an important feature of the Greenway. Upon completion, the Greenway will wind its way through many neighborhoods, each with its own unique history and story to tell. Public art, paid for through a combination of grants, private donations, and corporate and foundation funding, are scattered along the Downtown Greenway. These art installations tell the story of these neighborhoods and the city.
This new work, Cairn’s Course, from artist Thomas Sayre is, a special installation that does indeed tell the story of its place. Cairn’s Course is a monumental earthcasting sculpture consisting of 3 vertical stacks of “stones” that were created from the earth nearby. The sculptures are woven together by a circular path that pays homage to the nearby College Branch Stream through a series of terrazzo insets depicting stream life found in the waters of the creek. Seating areas and a central platform invite use of the space in many ways.
Thomas Sayre is an American sculptor and painter. He designs and builds public art projects and private commissions all over the world. Sayre’s current work includes large paintings made with tar, smoke, gunshots, welding material, earth, and fire. He is known for his earthcastings, monumental sculptures made in and of the earth. Sayre was a founding principal of the multi-disciplinary design firm Clearscapes, that designed numerous civic, educational, and museum buildings. Sayre is the recipient of an NEA grant and an honorary doctorate from North Carolina State University.
The Downtown Greenway’s public art consultant, Barbara Peck reflects, “I have been so looking forward to the time when the greater Greensboro community is introduced to this hidden oasis in the middle of our downtown. Thomas Sayre has created a wonderful, visual surprise in Cairn’s Course, and has transformed this site into a magical place. This significant public artwork will draw visitors to the site as it calls for us to recognize the importance and beauty of the life that lives in our precious waterways.”
This artwork is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Cemala Foundation, and the City of Greensboro’s Water Resources Department.
For the occasion, Thomas will speak briefly about his philosophy and work, and there will be a special performance by Activate Entertainment. “from stone” takes live performance out of the theatre and back to the streets. This 15-minute, pop-up performance combines circus, dance, and live music into a uniquely profound experience for audiences of all ages. Guests will receive a memento from the site to commemorate the day.
This WestWoods site is located along the former railroad corridor between Guilford and Friendly Avenues along the west side of downtown on property owned by Greensboro College. The College’s theatre department makes use of the building on the site that was Greensboro’s first bonded warehouse used to store cotton. With the railroad line no longer in use and an agreement reached between Norfolk Southern and the City of Greensboro to allow trail use on the former railroad corridor, plans are in place for this construction – expected to begin before the end of 2021.
Project Manager, Dabney Sanders notes, “This is such an exciting time for the Downtown Greenway and our community. With 3 miles of the 4 mile loop complete, the addition of this major work of significant public art, and the plans ready for the final mile, the end of the project is in our sights. The community engagement and enthusiasm for this work has been so rewarding and we can’t wait to see it through.”
About Downtown Greenway
The Downtown Greenway, a collaborative project of the City of Greensboro and Action Greensboro, is a planned 4 mile walking and biking trail that will encourage economic development, increase the tax base for the city, and will improve quality of life for its citizens. This urban loop around the center city of downtown Greensboro will enhance the urban landscape with a green space that will promote fitness, connectedness and well-being for our residents and visitors in an aesthetically pleasing environment. The loop itself provides a unique opportunity for Greensboro to have the only one of its kind in the state and one of the few in the country. With its emphasis on public art, the Greenway will tell stories and engage users of the trail in a unique and authentic way. In addition, with the connections to the extensive existing and planned trails systems in the city and the county, this loop will connect residents from all parts of the community and beyond. With 3 miles built and open to the public, and the final mile to go under construction this fall, the Downtown Greenway is expected to be completed in 2022/2023.
About Action Greensboro
Action Greensboro, together with the Chamber of Commerce, serves as the city’s primary economic and community development group. Formed in 2001, Action Greensboro is comprised of six local charitable foundations. In collaboration with business, higher education, and municipal government, Action Greensboro works to strengthen Greensboro's economy and ensure the continuation of its excellent quality of life.