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Meet the Atlanta Beltline’s most dramatic new sculpture, a functional grove

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Proposal was picked from 47 local, national, and international artist submissions

A new permanent sculpture rising as part of Art on the Beltline in Atlanta.
This prominent new sculpture along the Eastside Trail is meant to evoke a cluster of skinny pines.
Sculpture photos courtesy Atlanta Beltline Partnership

The Beltline’s Eastside Trail will soon welcome an interesting new pitstop—and sizable conversation piece—for walkers, joggers, cyclists, and everyone else.

Trail patrons have probably wondered in recent weeks what’s sprouting—a toothpick forest? a cluster of vertical railroad tracks?—at the Angier Springs access point, opposite Historic Fourth Ward Park.

Turns out it’s a permanent sculpture by Atlanta artist and architect Tim Frank, whose proposal was picked from 47 artist submissions that came in from around the world in hopes of contributing to the Beltline’s continuing art exhibition. Funding (of up to $25,000) came from a Schrager Family Foundation grant.

The sculpture was required to be “monumental in scale and visible from 100 yards away.” Check and check.

So what is it?

Inches from a busy trail leg, the piece stands as a grove of tall columns not unlike the slender pine forests found across Georgia, forming a place of repose that simultaneously seems open and closed, with stone seating in a little clearing in the middle that offers Beltline patrons a place to either gather or take a breather. And it’s all meant to act in concert with Atlanta’s climate, officials tell Curbed Atlanta.

Rendering by artist Tim Frank of his Eastside Trail sculpture.
Tim Frank

In his proposal, Frank described the sculpture’s functionality as follows:

“The size, spacing and orientation of the columns cools in the summer with shade and intensified breezes from the west, while warming during the winter months when it collects solar heat from the south, while buffering cool air from the north,” he wrote. “The proportion of the columns along with their spacing and orientation create a dynamic visual effect for those on the trail [as they] move towards and away from the piece. The pattern created by the column field constantly reinvents itself, acknowledging the significance of those who frequent the path.”

As for the seating amid the columns, Frank wrote:

“We feel the ability to pause and collect is of equal importance with such a strong urban promenade as it provides an intensification of activity and the transition between the trail and surrounding neighborhoods. Overall, our goal is not to prescribe the character of the system, but to allow the community to activate the space in their ever-changing needs in order to enrich public life in Atlanta.”

Location of the sculpture, opposite Historic Fourth Ward Park.

This gallery shows how the sculpture has come together:


Elsewhere on the Beltline ...

The first glorious concrete pour of the Eastside Trail’s extension through Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Cabbagetown, and Reynoldstown happened yesterday along Wylie Street. See footage of this long-awaited occasion on the agency’s Facebook page.

The 1.25-mile trail extension is on schedule to open this summer. As work continues, expect Irwin Street near Krog Street Market to be closed for about a month, beginning March 20.

Photos: ABI/Facebook

Meanwhile, here’s some concrete-pouring action this week from the Westside Trial (also scheduled to open this summer) near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive:


Art on the Atlanta Beltline happenings

The second of four workshops for artists interested in submitting to this fall’s Art on the Atlanta Beltline exhibition is coming Sunday afternoon. “The workshops are a way for us to provide additional information and to answer artists’ questions directly about the submittal process,” said Beltline spokesperson Jenny Odom.

The Beltline is specifically seeking thought-provoking proposals this year that are “experiential,” designed with trail users in mind.

More information on the exhibit and upcoming in-person (and online) information sessions is right over here.

Proposals are due May 1.