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Knoxville approves $825k contract to build foundation for massive art piece in Cradle of Country Music Park

The city approved an agreement with Blount Contractors to build the pier foundation that the large canopy sculpture will sit on.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville City Council approved an agreement on Tuesday that will set the foundation for a massive, new piece of art in downtown Knoxville.

The city council voted 7-1 in favor of entering into a nearly $825,000 agreement with Blount Contractors to build the pier foundation that the "Pier 865" canopy sculpture will sit atop in the Cradle of Country Music Park.

The process to redesign the park started around 8 years ago and since then, more than 100 artists submitted proposals to fill the park. Some of their projects were funded after organizers picked winning designs.

The biggest one was selected in 2018. It is a $560,000 canopy designed by a firm in Brooklyn, New York, called THEVERYMANY.


Once completed, it will become the city's largest, most expensive piece of public art.

Some public speakers at the meeting had reservations about the project, with one asking the city to bring the idea back to public comment.  

Councilmember Charles Thomas agreed that the location of the canopy wouldn't have been his first choice, but argued the project had been approved to enhance the city after a lengthy public comment phase. He said the funding had been accumulated and allocated through the Public Arts Committee, saying the city should follow through with the plan that had been approved years ago.

Liza Zenni, the executive director of Arts and Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville said this is a huge win for art lovers.

"Public art is absolutely a magnet for people, they love it. They're attracted to it," Zenni said. "You don't have to go into a place. You don't have to buy a ticket. It's there for you. It's public art, and it belongs to all of us."

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