GREENSBORO — A Raleigh artist will show his preliminary plans on Tuesday for his sculpture along the Downtown Greenway.
Thomas Sayre, known for his monumental sculptures made in and of the earth, has created plans for one at 501 Guilford Ave., along the final stretch of the path that will encircle center city.
To create his art, he uses earth and soil from the ground where his sculptures will eventually stand to form earth casts.
“We have admired Thomas Sayre’s work in other communities, and feel that having a work in Greensboro would be impactful and meaningful,” said Dabney Sanders, greenway project manager.
Because of the state’s stay-home order prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, Sayre will present his plans in a virtual meeting from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 5.
The sculpture will stand along the final mile of the 4-mile recreational path lined with landscaping and public art.
Action Greensboro, an arm of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, has joined with the city to create the greenway.
The $43 million greenway project, financed with public and private money, is expected to be completed in 2021. So far, 1.5 miles have been completed, and another 1.5 miles are under construction.
The remaining mile will run from Morehead Park on Spring Garden Street to the Meeting Place cornerstone — an area created for people to congregate — on West Smith Street.
It will cross Market Street along abandoned railroad tracks at a traffic light to be installed there.
Sanders said she expects that construction contract to be put out for bids in August.
Sayre’s earthcasting, known as West Woods, will be located on a site at Guilford Avenue and the railroad tracks that will become part of that section of greenway, a few blocks west of downtown. It’s owned by Greensboro College and partly occupied by a theater department building.
The sculpture will stand behind the building, between the railroad tracks and the College Branch stream that meanders under the building. It will be easily seen from West Friendly Avenue.
“The site is a little hidden gem of a place that I don’t think a lot of people are aware of or have seen,” Sanders said.
It was the site of the city’s first bonded warehouse, a customs-controlled warehouse that retained imported goods until the duty was paid.
A fire in the early 1970s destroyed the bulk of it, and the building on site now was rebuilt. But the concrete slab behind it comes from the original building, Sanders said.
Greensboro College and a UNCG professor have studied plant and animal life on the site, with its hidden urban forest.
“We are excited about the opportunity to highlight this special area that has not really been seen by a whole lot of people in the past,” Sanders said.
The $400,000 West Woods project will be financed by $200,000 from the Cemala Foundation, $100,000 from the city’s Water Resources Department and $75,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, Sanders said. Greenway organizers await another $25,000 in grants.
Based on feedback, Sayre might tweak his final proposal before the greenway’s art selection panel gives its final OK.
The installation schedule will depend in part on North Carolina’s current stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Greensboro College is not allowing visitors.
Sayre might do work on the site in summer and fall, and it could open in spring 2021, Sanders said.
Aside from encouraging exercise, the greenway has spurred economic development.
“It’s hard to know what else might be developed there,” Sanders said about that section of greenway with its sculpture. “But we see the area as ripe for additional development and think this will be a big complement to that.”