Discover Chattanooga’s Art Bike Ride, Courtesy of Hunter Museum
Looking to explore Chattanooga’s art scene?
Discover an eclectic collection of local sculptures, murals and statues on two wheels with Bike Chattanooga! The Hunter Museum, collectors, preservers and presenters of American art, teamed up with Bike Chattanooga in creating a self-guided bike tour of our city’s public art. Grab a pass, unlock a bike and explore Chattanooga’s expansive art scene.
Tennessee Riverwalk Extension to the Hunter
- Wheland Foundry moved to Chattanooga in 1873 through 2003. While the Foundry is no longer in operation, local artists have created a series of sculptures inspired by Chattanooga’s industrial history as seen along this portion of the river walk.
- Albert Paley Blue Goose Hollow – to learn more about this landmark and the artist through teen eyes watch this video created by 3 local teens. You can see more of Albert Paley’s work at the entry of the Hunter Museum and in the river gallery sculpture garden. This location was once the home of Bessie Smith, whose life you can learn more about at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center (see Southside below)
- The Passage – to learn more about the medallions and the process of artists from the Eastern and Western Bands of the Cherokee Nation working together
- As you bike on the switchbacks towards the Hunter you’ll see Jim Collins Weather Watcher. Signal Mountain TN based Collins’s work can be seen at the entry to the nearby Edwin hotel and throughout the length of the river walk as he was later commissioned to do mile markers from here to the dam and you can read more about him here
- If you choose to dock your bike near the Edwin Hotel, you can walk through the lobby and upper floors of the hotel to explore a wide range of art works commissioned from local Chattanooga artists. You can read more about some of the artists here and can read about all of them on wall text in the hotel.
Hunter Museum Sculpture Garden and River Gallery Sculpture Garden
- While these are technically two different collections, many guests see them as an expanse of beautiful sculpture found along the Bluff. Highlights include
- Deborah Butterfield’s Boreal – this bronze sculpture of a skeletal horse was designed to resemble the driftwood found on the shores of Butterfield’s Hawaii home
- Tom Otterness’s Free Money is not only a site for many instagram photos but a large scale representation of capitalism with money danced upon by smiley faced figures
- John Dreyfuss Full Count (found on the river walk just down the stairs in the front of the museum) allows viewers to enter onto the mound at the clutch moment of a full count. This sculpture was once housed near the Lookouts Stadium and another version of it can be found near the DC native sculptor’s home.
- Alexander Calder’s brightly colored Pregnant Whale offers an abstracted outline of this marine mammal’s form. Calder is also well known for his large scale mobile sculptures
- Harold Cash’s D’a-lal shows the beautiful form of a young female dancer the Georgia based sculptor saw while in France
- Brower Hatcher’s Sanctuary offers a space for respite and reflection along the ride. Standing in this sculpture allows visions of floating objects and a celestial magical feel.
- Red Groom’s Lindy Hop celebrates a dance form born in Harlem which quickly became a trend nationwide. This swing dance style overlaps with the time and music of Bessie Smith, the Empress of the Blues who is from Chattanooga and whose legacy can be explored at the Bessie Smith Sculpture Center on Martin Luther King Blvd
- Isamu Noguchi’s Pylon is a signature piece in the River Gallery sculpture garden. This elegant tall geometric pillar is one of many styles found in this celebrated Japanese American artist’s work. You can see more of his work in the Hunter’s collection.
- Mark Di Suvero’s Aria is another notable work by a highly regarded artist in the River Gallery collection. This welded steel object is reminiscent of found objects and the abstract expressionist aesthetic in which Di Suvero created.
- Ernest Trova’s Walking Jackman with its bright sheen and comical stance, offers a view of a man walking on a jack used at play. This skewed playful view of the world comes from an artist known for his surrealist sculptures
- Evan Lewis large scale stainless steel Atmosanctum is one of the most visible sculptures in the Bluff Art District. This kinetic wind powered sculpture comes alive at this site
Bridge and North Shore
- The Walnut Street bridge was converted from a traffic bridge to a walking bridge in 1993. It also has a dark history as the site of two lynchings of Black men – Alfred Blount who was murdered in 1893 and Ed Johnson was murdered in 1906. A sculpture in memory of Johnson’s brutal death and sacrifice is being created at the entry to the Walnut Street Bridge – you can read more about the sculpture and the story here.
- As you bike over the bridge you can see Maclellan Island below. Once inhabited by Native Americans and possibly connected the Cherokee village at nearby Citico, the island is currently a wildlife sanctuary. The last private owner Robert Maclellan donated the island to the Audubon Society in 1954. The island can be explored by the public and is accessible via kayak or paddleboard.
- Within Coolidge Park you can find an antique 1894 Dentzel carousel. The carousel features 52 wooden animals that were carefully hand-carved by local wood-carver Bud Ellis and a team of volunteers. The carousel was once a feature of Atlanta’s Grant Park.
- Art Works in Renaissance Park
- Place in the Woods by Carol Mickett and Bob Stackhouse – see the artists; process here
- Tulip Poplar by Terry Allen – learn more about the environmental message and the artist’s choice of theme and location here
- Camp Contraband – after the Union Army captured Chattanooga in 1863, thousands of escaped slaves settled in a makeshift encampment along the North Shore. The camp was run by a president and council made from residents; Eventually became City Hill
- We Will Not Be Satisfied Until mural on the AT&T building created by Meg Seligman in partnership with local artists. It celebrates Dr. King’s legacy here and nationwide and is one of the five largest murals in the country.
- Bessie Smith Cultural Center on MLK (formerly 9th street) is named after Chattanooga native Bessie Smith, the Empress of the Blues. Smith herself grew up in this neighborhood which was the home of thriving African American businesses and spaces showcasing performances including Bessie Smith herself. Inside the BSCC you can also explore exhibits highlighting Chattanooga’s African American history
- Walden Hospital located at Douglas and 8th Streets was opened by Dr. Emma Rochelle Wheeler in 1915. This hospital was the first local hospital owned, operated and staffed by African Americans and dedicated to the care and health of the African American community. This hospital operated until 1952 and while the site now houses apartments, a plaque commemorates this important structure.
- The Chattanooga Choo Choo – is a former railway station. The original station was opened in 1909 and closed in 1970. Local businessmen raised funds to convert the station into a hotel.
- Southside Chattanooga is a space filled with public art along Main Street including
- Sean LaRose’s Spirit of Southside celebrating the people and celebrations of this community
- Renowned local sculptor Isaac Duncan’s large scale brass sculpture Matriarch just off of main street, his large studio is also nearby
- Nearby you can see John Petrey’s Party Dress and Rey Alfonso’s Celestial Clockwork – both sculptures by local artists living in the Southside area
If you are ready for a slightly longer ride, be sure to check out Sculpture Fields, a 33 acre public part filled with sculptures.