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NoDa’s newest art installation may transform the pedestrian experience

Have you ever noticed this little pedestrian bridge (photographed above) at 2724 N. Davidson St. between the Matheson Bridge and Heist Brewery?

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Well, it’s about to get a lot more noticeable this summer thanks to approval from CDOT for a pedestrian bridge art installation at the hands of NoDa artist Theron Ross, according to NoDa Neighborhood and Business Association Treasurer Lauren Schalburg.

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Theron Ross

Ross first proposed the plan to NoDaRioty (the NoDa NBA arts committee) in July 2013, which approved a grant for his project in April 2015. The city approved the project then too, contingent upon CDOT’s approval of the design, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Neighborhood Matching Grants Program contributed funding. CDOT just approved the project design May 11.

“If you stand there and look it’s a little oasis of plant life,” Ross said of the spot.

He saw the previously dilapidated railing as something that was crying out for beautification (the City has since fixed it up a bit, Schalberg said).

“When you go to larger cities, you see functional art all over the place,” Ross said. “It’s not uncommon to see beautifully designed benches and gates and railings … There are so many things that can be done artistically that can still serve the function.”

And Ross, whose focus is on metalworking and blacksmithing, isn’t new to functional art, or to NoDa. His previous work includes a project supported by a grant from NoDaRioty’s Greenification Committee, for creating artsy bike racks in the neighborhood. A prime example is the cat rack in front of Smelly Cat.

What to expect

Check out Ross’ design for the pedestrian bridge project, which he plans to start working on in about three weeks. A big reveal party is set to follow at Heist Brewery, tentatively Aug. 5 to coincide with NoDa’s newly resurrected gallery crawls.

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“I thought of it as a day in the life of NoDa,” Ross said. “It has a person riding a bicycle, like a silhouette, and then it has a person walking a dog on the other side, one side has the sun rising and the other side has the moon. And in the field of it, it has some funky, colorful … plant forms.”

The design may also incorporate a small chalkboard that people can write messages on, kind of like the “Before I Die” walls.

But no matter how you choose to interact with the pedestrian bridge, Ross said he believes it’s important to “make sure that we have creative things that surround us … I think it’s very inspiring. It’s what makes neighborhoods what they are.”

Photos: Katie Toussaint, Ron Chapple Studio 

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