Greenbush -2000 - The Process
THE PROCESS

How did this project come to be?

The inspiration for “The Spirit of Greenbush” came from all the wonderful stories of the Greenbush neighborhood I had heard for years. I was moved by the fact that this diverse and culturally rich neighborhood no longer existed, and I believed that something has been lacking in downtown Madison as a result. This old neighborhood had developed so many of the community values that today we find ourselves longing for, such as helpfulness and friendship. I felt compelled that it was time to express a sense of commemoration or atonement for this unique former community. That goal has been the driving motivation in this work.

My philosophy on successful public sculpture is based on the importance of public involvement throughout the creative process. My first step was to interview approximately 30 former residents to understand the complex feelings, emotions, and nuances of Greenbush. Next I formed a committee, holding meetings on a regular basis to keep the community involved. Committee members helped make major decisions on how the project could best express the spirit of the Greenbush neighborhood, and also provided aesthetic input on the sculpture itself. This “sounding board” approach is critical in my work. I believe that public art must resonate with its intended audience.

THE MONUMENT

What does it mean?
After the initial interviews with past residents, a theme began to emerge from their statements: They remembered “the Bush” as a true community, where people helped each other when in need.

Within the sculpture, I chose to express this theme with two figures carved in marble reaching out for each other. They are stylized to represent any ethnic background or gender. Their heads are turned away so as to be unaware or indifferent to what race or ethnic background they are helping. A drapery shrouds them — symbolic of the community that surrounds and protects its residents. The image is intentionally subtle; I hope to draw a viewer more closely to the piece and create a sense of discovery, as the shapes within the sculpture and their meanings become more apparent. A spiraling curve as the overall shape communicates a feeling of community, how it wraps itself around its members and contains them, just as the abstract shape surrounds and contains the two figures.

This section was carved from a 20-ton Carrara marble block quarried in Italy. I selected this material for the high-quality stone and the symbolic importance of its Italian origin. I left the stone rough and jagged at the bottom. This somewhat unpleasant, deteriorating look communicates a distress. I wanted this portion to reflect that the neighborhood was destroyed as part of an urban renewal project in the 1960s. From the rough and jagged stone, the sculpture then rises into smooth and polished shapes and images, signifying that even after the destruction of the neighborhood, the wonderful relationships and spirit that were developed continue to flourish and rise above it all. Because of the sculpture’s public venue — where we all communicate and express ourselves in different ways. I felt that it was necessary to incorporate several media. I purposely incorporated written, visual, as well as abstract images in order to make connections with a wide range of viewers. The written media incorporates quotations to resonate with viewers who are more literal. The intent is to create a multi-dimensional sculpture that parallels the Greenbush community’s eclectic and inclusive qualities. Much of the rich history of the neighbor-hood lies in the vivid stories that were passed down to each generation, and the print media within this project is an attempt to capture some of the commu-nity’s past that might otherwise be lost forever.
I incorporated photo images to reference the piece to the visual history of the neighborhood. For many viewers, it is critically important to actually “see” the neighborhood as it once was. The use of Dakota mahogany granite gives the photo images an antique sepia-tone quality. The site and the sculpture itself utilize the triangle motif throughout. The core of the Bush was the triangle bordered by Regent Street, Park Street, and West Washington Avenue. This area was destroyed in the federal and city urban renewal project. Three different colors pave the walkways, with each combining in the center triangle to reflect the concept that the Greenbush neighborhood was a diverse group of ethnic backgrounds.
THE SPIRIT OF GREENBUSH

Why is this monument important?

This is more than just a visual image; it is a statement about our society and a reminder of how we need to value our past. It is about understanding how our visual heritage gives us a sense of place. We have an inherent need to understand who we are and where we come from. Neighborhoods allow us to be connected to our fellow human beings and nurture values we hold dear.

This sculpture is a reminder for us to take steps to preserve our history and to develop communities. It is my sincere hope that this piece of public art in some way will foster the values of community, caring, and respect that were “The Spirit of Greenbush.”