Greensboro News & Record
By Donald W. Patterson, Staff Writer
Apr 26, 2007
GREENSBORO — There’ll soon be a new Greene giant downtown: a 10-foot-tall bronze statue of Gen. Nathanael Greene, the Revolutionary War hero and the city’s namesake.
Leaders of the artistic endeavor have tapped the roundabout at Greene and McGee streets for the work to be created by sculptor Jim Barnhill, an associate professor of art at N.C. A&T.
The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation is offering the statue as a gift to the city; organizers plan to unveil it in the spring during Greensboro’s bicentennial celebration.
The sculpture could cost between $100,000 and $200,000 .
“We have a lot of work to do to get the design right,” said Ed Kitchen, the vice president of the foundation . “We are not at the stage where we can say what it will look like.”
Even so, the news has left art lovers and downtown proponents jolly.
“Where better to have it than on Greene Street and in the middle of that roundabout,” Mayor Keith Holliday said. “Going way back, I said we needed some sort of public art in the middle of it. ... To have that landmark there for years to come, how appropriate.”
The statue will make a striking presence. Looking north up Greene, which is named for the general, the approximately 500-pound piece will tower over the intersection. At 10 feet tall, the sculpture will stand atop a pedestal that could exceed six feet in height.
“We wanted it to be big enough that you could see it well from a distance,” Kitchen said.
Greene will be in uniform and on foot. A statue of the young general on horseback stands at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park.
Kitchen said a panel of six people received proposals from four Greensboro sculptors and selected Barnhill because of his experience.
His work stands in parks, malls, gardens and public areas nationwide. Locally, he’s best known for February One, a statue at A&T that shows the four university students who started the Woolworth’s sit-in , and Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, which stands at UNCG.
Barnhill, 51, understands the demands associated with his latest commission.
“I know a great deal is riding on this,” he said. “Yeah, I have got to get this right. Yeah, there’s pressure.”
Part of that pressure is what Greene looks like.
Historians say the general was a little on the pudgy side.
“I’m caught between creating this macho looking guy that people would follow into battle ... and historical accuracy,” Barnhill said. “We tend to modernize him.”
So which look will prevail? The one foundation leaders want.
“I want them to be happy,” Barnhill said. “I’m not temperamental.”
Contact Donald W. Patterson at 373-7027 or donpatterson