Rugby Gates - Frayser Community
Rugby Gates is a community based public art project in the Rugby neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee. The piece is a series of brick gateways along a main road in the neighborhood. It was created from the ground it sits upon. The project site is the area where the original brickyards of Memphis were located. The concept was developed after a long process of meetings with city officials, neighborhood organizers, neighborhood residents, local schools and extensive research on the history of the area. Twenty-six local high school students were hired to assist in making bricks in a five-week long after school program. The final piece consists of 12 brick columns with carved relief depicting images relating to the area's history. There are 100 carved clay tiles (10 on each small column) representing the area's events and people of the past and present. The two large columns sit at approximately the same location as the original stone gateway into Rugby.
The project began in November 2006 with community meetings and historical research for 9 months. 80,000 pounds of local clay from the original farm of Dr. John Frayser were transported to Clarksville, Tennessee where it was processed and the bricks were made and carved. There was a temporary brickyard setup at Arkwings on the eastern edge of the Rugby neighborhood. This is where the high school students worked to make the paver bricks. These bricks surround the base of the two large columns and have over 400 names stamped in their surface. People who live in the neighborhood submitted the names. 2500 flyers were handed out door to door by high school students to inform the neighborhood about the project and receive names for the bricks.
About the Artist
Gregg Schlanger is a professor of art at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. He received his BFA from Boise State University in 1987 and his MFA from Northern Illinois University in 1989. Gregg’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. This includes a community public art commission for the City of Memphis, Tennessee, a community project for the City of Providence, Rhode Island, a commission for the public library in Owensboro, Kentucky and exhibits in Berlin, Erfurt, Potsdam and Jena, Germany. Gregg has also exhibited his work in Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, California, North Carolina, Arkansas, Idaho and Virginia. He has received many awards including Sponsorship by the New York Foundation for the Arts, Israel-Tennessee Visual Artist Exchange Project Fellowship, USIA Arts America Grant and New Forms Regional Initiative Grant from the NEA.
Gregg works primarily in installations and community public art. He is interested in exploring through his projects the potential of creating a better “sense of place” (leading to a respect for that place and the environment). Gregg believes this can happen through community involvement and the educational aspects that occur dealing with the various concepts of his work.