Mists and crowds greet opening of ARTivity on the Green

Mists and crowds greet opening of ARTivity on the Green
May 14
00:00 2015
(Above: Photos by Erin Mizelle for the Winston-Salem Chronicle.- Kwesi Pitt, 4, takes a break from a day full of exploring downtown Winston-Salem’s newest piece of art, ARTivity on the Green. Created out of private funding through sponsor AFAS, Art for Art’s Sake, it is a must-see green space, built for all to enjoy.)

ARTivity on the Green, a new park downtown on Liberty Street, opened to the public on Saturday, May 9. People filled the park, located between Sixth and Seventh streets beside Top Tier CrossFit.

The park is owned and operated by Arts for Arts Sake (AFAS), a local nonprofit group that promotes the arts.

AFAS Chair Harry Knabb  said the group purchased a gravel parking lot with a grant from the Thomas J. Regan Foundation and transformed it into a park of green, grassy hills and bright red arches.

“We broke ground in December, it’s now May, so five months later, this went from a gravel cement parking lot into what you see today,” he said. “It’s for the community. We want you all to enjoy it, to have fun.”

The park includes an area with white arches that have seats and built-in easels that can act as a stage for performances. Both tall red arches that are lit at night and lower red ones that patrons could sit on are scattered across the park. All of its walkways lead to 13 towering red masts that give off mist several times a day, which Knabb said was a novel take on the normal  water fixtures found at parks.

Knabb said AFAS will maintain the park with the initial grant funds and then look to corporate donors to fund the upkeep. Though it’s AFAS’ first park, the group has been very visible around downtown with outdoor art installations, Arts on Sunday festivals, an arch at the intersection of Sixth and Cherry streets and its own Red Dog Gallery on Trade Street.

The park received high praise from city officials. Derwin Montgomery was impressed at the speed it was built. He said the park was an excellent bridge between the nearby Innovation Quarter and Arts District downtown.

“It is a place where people can gather, a place where we believe we can come together and convene and celebrate one another,” he said.

Mayor Allen Joines said AFAS has given Winston-Salem a great gift with the new park, which was appropriate since the city’s birthday was on May 13 (the day it was incorporated in 1913).

“You’ve given us a heck of a birthday present, so thank you very much,” he said.

Saturday’s opening showed many ways the park could be used, with food vendors lining the street and the Rainmaker band playing blue grass music in the stage area. Artists had their easels out, painting. A mime and a living statue entertained attendees who sat on the grass and enjoyed the warm day.

A wall separating the park from neighboring businesses on Trade Street became a giant canvas as 10 artists created murals to cover it and children used an 11th section to put their hand prints on. Mural artist Jeff Beck of Greensboro spent all day perfecting his bright pink octopus that now adorns the wall. The AFAS member uses spray paint and then goes in with brushes for fine details on his murals. He’s done several murals, including ones in a tattoo parlor and coffee shop. He said he was honored to be among the initial artists chosen for the park’s wall.

“It’s an amazing park,” he said. “It’s cool to have something like this locally.”

Next May the wall will be painted white and a new crop of mural artists will have their chance to cover it. Knabb said those wishing to be considered should go to AFAS’ website to become a member and mention they’re interested in working on the park’s mural wall in the comments section.

Among the many attendees where Elliot Strunk, his wife Betsy and eight-year-old son Evan.

He’s ringleader (creative director) at Fifth Letter, a graphic design firm just a block down on Trade Street. He said he liked having a park so close to the office. He thinks there should be more green spaces in the city, so everyone can have a park within walking distance.

“Personally I’m looking forward to it because it gives me a chance to get out of the office and walk a block if I need to sit and brain storm or get my team out of the office for something fun, it’s like our backyard,” he said. “It’s our new creative backyard.”

Activity on the Green will is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p..m. and parks rules don’t allow for alcohol, weapons or skateboarding. For more information on AFAS, visit

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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