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May 31, 2006 8:15 AM CDT

Brick Furniture and Fishes


Brick sculptures line the streets of downtown Chattanooga as a result of a public art competition and commission co-produced by the Association for Visual Artists (AVA), the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Masonry Association of Chattanooga (MAC). Begun in 1992, the project started as an annual competition between local artists to design public "street furniture" to be placed downtown - with the early pieces being placed near the Tennessee Aquarium. Before the placement of each piece, AVA and the MAC consulted local planners and architects to insure construction integrity.

The "Masonry Works in Public" project produced brick sculptures designed by local artists and erected by local brick masons, free of charge. This unique public art program was handled as a competition funded by the Masonry Association and AVA, and cash awards were given for the selected entries. The Public Art projects have graced Chattanooga's public spaces with a feeling of energy, excitement and often whimsy.

For instance, along the original Riverwalk, a large fish made of brick and mortar offers a respite to walkers and a spectacular view of the river. This addition to Chattanooga's street furniture was designed by local artist David Barber. The 10-foot-long fish, titled "Catch of the Day," has found a perfect location near the fishing piers.

In a continuation of the project, which ended in 2002, the AVA and MAC are collaborating with students from two Hamilton County elementary schools to design and construct a masonry sculpture on the grounds of the schools. The mission of this program is to introduce students to career opportunities in the visual arts, masonry and design fields, as well as to instill a sense of pride by providing students with the opportunity to pay tribute to their school by creating a masonry sculpture that will serve as a memorial for years to come. This program is made possible by a $15,000 grant from the City of Chattanooga.

About the Author

Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at


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