A new piece of public art is being dedicated today at the intersection of Granite and Old Granite Streets, and in LivableMHT’s view, Crosswalk is certainly one of the most interesting and appealing pieces of art added to the city center in some time. With Origins at the Currier, Bull at the Riverwalk foot bridge, Vivace at the Verizon, and now Crosswalk along the Granite Street gateway, not to mention numerous restoration projects, the past half-decade has seen an impressive renaissance of urban art in the Queen City.
Crosswalk is poised at a major gateway to downtown, and could help bring new life to the promising, but slowly redeveloping Gaslight District. While the eventual intermodal transit center may have to be located elsewhere downtown now, the bronze and granite sculpture faces the historic (and until recently planned) site of the city’s major train station. It’s great to imagine people, one day soon, disembarking from a train, walking up the gentle hill of Old Granite past shops and restaurants and on to the arena, pausing to view the sculpture that depicts the very act of walking around and being in a city.
The piece, by New Hampshire artist, Ernesto Montenegro, who teaches at the New Hampshire Institute of Art downtown, was commissioned by the Manchester Arts Commission, and funded entirely through donations to the Manchester Art Fund. John Clayton shares the artist’s take on the piece and some reminiscence about growing up in Manchester in today’s In the City column.
Crosswalk reminds LivableMHT a bit of Richard Beyer’s sculpture, Waiting for the Interurban, in the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle. Both are public sculptures depicting everyday life in the city, are sited along major gateways, and both pieces are fun additions to the public space, with people often dressing up or decorating Waiting for the Interurban. It’s impossible to say yet whether people will be so playful with Crosswalk, or how the City or sculptor would feel about that, but the playfulness of the sculpture will hopefully help spur development of the Gaslight, and offer an opportunity for a funky, charmingly gritty but still inviting counterpoint to downtown north of Granite Street.
This post is one in an ongoing LivableMHT series, Livable/Unlovable, that will comment on proposals, projects and other topics that are either good (Livable) or bad (Unlovable) from a livability/urban development viewpoint.