Caddo Common park has a dazzling new look this week and there’s more to come! The installation of the three radiant, large-scale Artistrees launches the long-awaited Phase II completion of the new community greenspace located at the center of Shreveport Common in downtown Shreveport. The installation premieres noon, Sunday, October 17 at UNCOMMON Sundays in the Park, 869 Texas Avenue.
The public art trees, named “Diamonds for Jim,” were designed by artist team Bruce Allen and the late Jim Hayes after a year-long community process which gave neighbors “first voice” in the design of the park. In October 2020, Bruce Allen completed the final design of the trees and began offsite fabrication of the electric blue metal trunks and the yellow and amber, LED lit panel “leaves.” He installed the three Artistrees, two 20’ and one 25’ tall, this week in the park’s future Art Bosque Food Truck Court.
“This is Jim’s design,” says Allen. “We started years ago designing something that would be dynamic and fit with what the community wanted in the new greenspace.” Allen describes the tree’s bases as having the feel of cypress trunks. He says the branches and panels were designed to create a canopy over the area where the table sets will go. The electric blue trunks have a shiny, almost reflective quality that was created by a combination of repeated grinding of the metal bases and working with Martin Specialty Coatings for a “candy coat“ finish, according to Allen. The sun creates a glow through the acrylic panels by day. At night the panels are LED lit.
Tracey Graham, Choice Neighborhood coordinator says that she is excited to see the Artistrees go up. “The art and programming in Caddo Common park enhances the area, creating a beautiful place for our neighbors to come and socialize,” she says.
Pam Atchison, executive director of Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC) hopes everyone will come to experience the new addition to the park. “It’s UNexpected and Unimaginable,” she says. “Through Bruce’s fantastic artistry, the trees are as dramatic by day as they are at night, when the spectacular leaves glow brilliantly.”
The McSwain outdoor performance pavilion on the south side of the park. A Mister Station, table sets and a game kiosk are planned for later this year.
Caddo Common park is at the epicenter of the larger, nationally-awarded, creative placemaking revitalization of the 9-block urban area, according to Wendy Benscoter, executive director of Shreveport Common, Inc. “Our community has come together to transform a blighted triangle of broken concrete at Texas Ave. and Cotton to a unique and exciting community space for everyone to enjoy,” says Benscoter. “This is Creative Placemaking at its best,” according to Benscoter. “The park, it’s gardens, tree-lined walking paths, now the Artistrees, and the outdoor pavilion under construction are creating a very special place where everyone in our community is welcome.” Benscoter says the team effort of public and private support, the neighbors, property owners and artists have made Caddo Common a reality.
The outdoor performance pavilion is expected to be completed within a year. In the meantime, SRAC will continue UNCOMMON Sundays in Caddo Common from 12:00 to 4:00 pm on the third Sunday of the month through November.