History of the Park & Sculptures

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Cradle of Country Music Park

The Cradle of Country Music Park is nearly a half acre triangle shaped park sitting at the corner of Summit Hill Drive and Gay Street (204 S. Gay St.).

In 1986, the park was created to recognize East Tennessee's music heritage. The park is included on the East Tennessee Historical Society's Cradle of Country Music Walking Tour as location number nine with a marker for Archie Campbell and Chet Atkins.

Click on the yearly images below to learn about different sculptures that have adorned the park from 1986 to 2023.

In 1985, the Knoxville News Sentinel (KNS) commissioned a treble clef sculpture piece for downtown Knoxville to celebrate the newspaper's 100th anniversary and to honor East Tennessee's music heritage.

The sculpture, based on a design by KNS artist Jerry Weintz, was created by sculptor Paul Betouliere. For the creation of the sculpture, Betouliere used a process that included cutting the design from large blocks of foam, adding several layers of resin/fiberglass, filling gaps with bondo, then applying metal layers with a thermal arc gun. The 18'h x 9'w sculpture weighed in at 3 tons and took three months to create.

The base of the sculpture consisted of a six-sided pyramid. The sides of the pyramid contained bronze plaques which listed several hundred honorees who were performers of East Tennessee and a list of those who made donations. These plaques are stored at the East Tennessee History Center.

The sculpture was installed in the park on March 26, 1986. A public dedication was held on April 3, 1986 and included Mayor Kyle Testerman, Rep. John Duncan, Betouliere, Weintz, KNS President Roger Daley, Archie Campbell and other performers. On the evening of the same day, an East Tennessee Tribute to Country Music Concert was held at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium with concert proceeds helping pay the cost of the park and statue.

Due to deterioration beyond repair, the Treble Clef sculpture was removed in 2009.

Read News Release from 10-26-2009

1986-2009: Treble Clef by Paul Betouliere

Paul Betouliere is a Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist, presently working primarily in sculpture and graphite drawings. Growing up along the California coast, he was surrounded by art and nature from earliest childhood. Born in a mid-century modern home designed by R.M. Schindler, he showed an early interest in the visual arts. Working with ceramics, creating sculptures and designing and building his family's home served as inspiration for his life and his art. He has worked on small- and large-scale projects across the country, and remains committed to sharing with others his creative expressions of the beauty he sees in the world around him.

Learn more about Paul Betouliere

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Photos of Treble Clef in November 2009

Dogwood Arts Festival's Art in Public Places Program

Starting in 2014, the Dogwood Arts Festival provided a sculpture piece for the park as part of their Art in Public Places Program. A new sculpture was installed each year.

2014-2015: Envious Composure by Albert Paley

The first piece for Dogwood Arts Festival's Art in Public Places Program was entitled Envious Composure by Albert Paley. The piece consisted of formed and fabricated steel with a painted finish and dimensions of 18’3”h x 7’6”w x 7’d. The sculpture remained in the park from March 2014 through March 2015. The piece is now in the permanent collection at Purdue University. It is installed at the First Street Suites on Mitch Daniels Boulevard. Learn more about Purdue's acquisition.

03/07/2014 - Art in Public Places Works to be Installed

Learn more about sculptor Albert Paley

Cradle of Country Music ParkEnvious Composure by Albert Paley Envious Composure by Albert Paley
Photos of Envious Composure by Albert Paley - last two photos by InsideofKnoxville.com

2015-2016: Allegro by Hanna Jubran

The Allegro sculpture by Hanna Jubran consisted of painted steel and sized at 12'h x 6'w x 5' d. The sculpture remained in the park from 2015 through 2016. Jubran’s works embrace all aspects of the sculptural process including metal fabrication, metal casting, stone and wood carving, and combined stone and metal casting. An artist always on the go, Jubran has been creating metal worlds, some with intricate insides and fascinating exteriors, for over 40 years. While his sculptures are abstract, their language is always accessible.

Learn more about Hanna Jubran

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Photos of Allegro by Hanna Jubran

2016-2017: Waterdrop by Hanna Jubran

Hanna Jubran's Waterdrop sculpture, sized  20'h x 6'w x 4'd, consisted of painted steel and remained in the park from 2016 through 2017. A description of Waterdrop reads: "Waterdop is about the concept and effect of sound and water droplets that creates a surface tension upon impact. The water speed creates variety of sounds, shapes and forms. The vertical lines depict rain and water drops.”

Learn more about Hanna Jubran

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Photos of Waterdrop by Hanna Jubran

2017-2018: Earth Fire Water Wind by Hanna Jubran

The Earth Fire Water Wind sculpture by Hanna Jubran consisted of painted steel and remained in the park from 2017 through 2018. Jubran’s work addresses the concepts of time, movement, balance and space. Each sculpture occupies and creates its own reality influenced by its immediate surroundings. The work does not rely on one media to evoke the intended response, but takes advantage of compatible materials such as, wood, granite, steel, iron and bronze.

Learn more about Hanna Jubran

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Photos of Earth Fire Water Wind by Hanna Jubran - last photo by InsideKnoxville.com

2018-2019: Renegade by Chakaia Booker

The sculpture entitled Renegade by Chakaia Booker was displayed in the park from 2018-2019. Booker integrated recycled tires that have been slashed, cut, twisted, weaved, riveted and reshaped into radically new forms and textures. The material lended itself to the extremes of outside exposure. The sculpture was sized at 8'h x 5'w.

Learn more about Chakaia Booker

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Photos of Renegade by Chakaia Booker - last photo by CompassKnox.com.

2019-2020: Discovery by Fisher Stolz

The 12'h x 5'w x 5'd stainless steel sculpture entitled Discovery by Fisher Stolz remained in the park from 2019 through 2020. In his work, Stolz uses metaphors from science to celebrate the idea of learning though focused searching. Learning is an important part of how we grow and evolve. To be able to learn through art is a unique experience and a new way to engage the viewer. This stainless steel sculpture contains a left-handed double helix form that represents a rare type of DNA. Discovery also uses the visual depiction of an atom supported by a cone. The cone begins at a condensed point at the base of the sculpture and spreads through the area between the loose grouping that composes the center sphere and orbits of the electron pathways. This is a reference to particle collisions studied in large scale accelerators.

Learn more about Fisher Stolz

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Photos of Discovery by Fisher Stolz - last photo by InsideofKnoxville.com

2020-2021: Inchoate by Luke Achterberg

The sculpture entitled Inchoate by Luke Achterberg was displayed in the park from 2020-2021. The 300 lbs piece was comprised of automotive paint on steel with dimensions of 11'h x 3'w x 3'd. In his work, Achterberg explores the subcultures of Americana found in automotive customizing, style writing, graffiti, comics, snow/skateboarding and street art—all of which display extremely high technical skills developed outside of academia. Working to overturn the standardization of mass production, he is continually playing with balance, both physical and aesthetic, to create a pronounced visual sleekness.

Learn more about Luke Achterberg

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Photos of Inchoate by Luke Achterberg

2021-2022: Reach! By Ben Pierce

The sculpture entitled Reach! by Ben Pierce was displayed in the park from 2021-2022. The stainless steel piece rose upward into a 15'5"h x 4'w x 3'5"d sculpture. Using a minimalist approach and being mindful of negative space, Achterberg constructs simple geometric forms to capture the viewers’ interest and stir their emotions. 

Learn more about Ben Pierce

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Photos of Reach by Ben Pierce

2023: Pier 865 by Marc Fornes / TheVeryMany

In December 2017, the City invited artists to submit their qualifications to create an iconic, site-specific piece of permanent public art to be installed in the Cradle of Country Music Park downtown. From 129 global applicants, the $500,000 project was awarded to Marc Fornes / TheVeryMany in 2018.

The piece, entitled Pier 865, will be an interactive sculpture that aims to transform downtown’s passive Cradle of Country Music Park into a dynamic public gathering space.

The area for the new sculpture development is currently being prepared.

Marc Fornes is a registered and practicing architect specializing in computational design and digital fabrication, and inventor of 'Structural Stripes,' a building system by which thousands of custom-designed parts form complex, self-supporting curvlinear surfaces. 

Learn more about Marc Fornes / TheVeryMany

RFQs for the Project:
12/14/2017 - RFQ for Piece of Downtown Art & Addendum [PDF]
12/17/2018 - RFQ for Landscape Architect [PDF]
07/09/2021 - RFQ for Construction Services [PDF]

12/18/2017 - Artists Sought to Create $500,000 Piece of Downtown Art

11/28/2018 - Public Art to Transform Gay Street Green Space

08/22/2022 - Knoxville leaders working to redesign Cradle of Country Music Park (WBIR)

09/06/2022 - City approves plan to build mega, $500,000 art piece in Cradle of Country Music Park (WBIR)