Public art to honor Kalkhof
Soon, volunteers are scheduled to start painting the city’s first pilot public art project that will commemorate Durham’s civil rights history. Other well-known public art pieces are “Major” the bull in CCB Plaza and six sculptures on Parrish Street commemorating the history of Black Wall Street.
The board of Downtown Durham Inc. has collected about $10,000 from board members to build another piece of public art, this one to commemorate the work of Bill Kalkhof. The sculpture was announced during a retirement party this week celebrating Kalkhof’s 20 years as the first president of the downtown redevelopment organization.
The money was raised through an informal, pass-the-hat method, said Tucker Bartlett, chairman of the DDI board. “He’s really had the passion and the vision the last 20 years that have driven development in downtown Durham,” Bartlett said of Kalkhof. “He believed before he could get anyone else to listen to him.”
Kalkhof called the proposal “an incredible gesture…. I was honored and surprised that board members would step up with their hearts and wallets to do something like this in my honor,” he said.
The design is a work in progress, but the sculpture will not be a representational statue. Kalkhof said he and other members of DDI will meet with Durham sculptor Al Frega to brainstorm about materials and designs. “I want to share it with my colleagues because I want them to be a part of this honor,” Kalkhof said.
While he has no set vision for the art, he would like to find materials that have been part of downtown buildings and “try and build some kind of cool funky looking something.”
Kalkhof said he has art in his house, but has no overriding theme, and does not collect as an investment. Rather, he simply buys what he thinks is interesting.
He would like for the sculpture to be placed in one of the art pads built as part of the downtown streetscape improvements. If the art goes there, it would be the first public art to go in those spaces, and “might be a start to getting something on those pedestals,” he said. “We hope the city will allow us to do that. …We built those pedestals for a purpose and we need to use them.” The location is yet to be determined.
CCB Plaza has two circular platforms facing Market Street that were built for some kind of public art. At Five Points, a platform is available in the area in front of the Bull City Business Center, where Chapel Hill and Main streets cross.
Frega takes found materials and refurbishes them. He built the railings that adorn the seating areas at Peabody Place near Brightleaf Square. He was one of the artists chosen to redesign bus stops along the Bull City Connector as public art. Frega also built the book donation box in the book nook reading area at American Tobacco campus, using old parts from American Tobacco and Liggett & Myers warehouses. Frega built bike racks, benches, gates and other pieces for Chapel Hill’s greenways trails.