published Monday, March 25th, 2013

Glass Street group celebrates its Rise Up Chattanooga sculpture

Wil and Margaret Davis look at a part of the sculpture Rise Up Chattanooga on Glass St. Sunday afternoon. The sculpture which composed of 452 donated ladders was designed by artist Charlie Brower. The Davis's donated a ladder to the artist and came to see if they could find it in the sculpture.
Wil and Margaret Davis look at a part of the sculpture Rise Up Chattanooga on Glass St. Sunday afternoon. The sculpture which composed of 452 donated ladders was designed by artist Charlie Brower. The Davis's donated a ladder to the artist and came to see if they could find it in the sculpture.
Photo by Connor Choate.

Motorists driving down Glass Street see the sculpture rise suddenly into the sky -- a colorful structure woven together with ladders borrowed from the community.

Small ladders, large ladders, colorful ladders or plain brown ones, more than 450 of them from almost 250 lenders stand as a picture of one community's hopes and dreams.

Everyone from Amazon.com to Glass Street residents to the Hart Gallery handed over their ladders and step stools to make the Rise Up Chattanooga project a reality.

"Our goal was to get as much breadth of the community as possible," said Charlie Brouwer, the artist commissioned by the Glass House Collective to create the piece.

Brouwer, a Virginia-based artist, said he wanted the sculpture to draw other people to Glass Street.

"Here's a place in the community that needs help, needs support, that needs to know you're interested in it," he said. "A community can't really be said to rise up until all of it rises up."

Rise Up is part of the Glass House Collective's initiative to bring revival to Glass Street.

"We believe Glass Street and the east part of Chattanooga is a unique part of our community," said Katherine Currin, director of the Collective. "We've had a series of art installations getting people to rethink how they interact with this community."

Currin said the sculpture has done its job well. During its brief stay in the grass lot beside the Collective's office, more than 1,000 people have come to see it.

"It's surpassed our greatest expectations in terms of attracting people to the area," she said. "It's given people from outside East Chattanooga a more definite role in the community-building project."

Tenika Dye, artistic director for the ReCreate Cafe at the Salvation Army on McCallie Avenue, was impressed by how Brouwer collected what he needed.

"This is temporary. It's not going to stay here," she said. "I think it's neat that he worked so hard for a couple of months to create something that will disappear this week."

Brouwer and the Glass House Collective will host a community barbecue Wednesday to celebrate the return of all those ladders to their owners.

But not all will go back to the original lenders. About 40 are being donated to Habitat for Humanity, in addition to nearly 1,000 step stools from Amazon.com.

Next on the Collective's agenda are several artistic and sculptural seating elements, such as benches or swings, that will be placed along Glass Street. It has received proposals from more than 100 artists in 34 states, and residents will be voting on semifinalists soon.

about Lindsay Burkholder...

Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.

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