Rock City’s most recent commissioned artwork has just been installed where guests can now enjoy a new sculpture along the Enchanted Trail. Artist Matthew Dutton was selected earlier this year to create a new exhibit for the park, which he has entitled Maloria, Mother of the Wild. Mr. Dutton was chosen anonymously out of several artists to commission a piece tying in art, nature and heritage of Rock City Gardens. Mr. Dutton’s sculpture makes the seventh art installation for the Rock City Art Initiative since 2009.
“We are so excited to add another incredible sculpture by a local artist to our collection in the gardens,” said See Rock City, Inc. President Susan Harris. “Art in the Gardens is one of the ways that SRC is able to invest in our local community, and we know that our guests’ experience will be enhanced by this addition.”
“The site for installation was chosen due to its 360-degree viewing opportunity, which is unusual in the Gardens given the nature of the rock formations and the trail,” said Will Jackson, senior manager of innovation for SRC. “The space is on a high rock shelf above our Fallow Deer Habitat and below the Swing-A-Long Bridge, which gives guests incredible views including the opportunity to see the piece from above. This installation also marks our first piece to be placed on the lower half of the Enchanted Trail, which has a more woodland, fairytale presence that is perfect for the content of Dutton’s work.”
“The Rock City outdoor sculpture I have created is of a figure designed to evoke a sense of whimsy, history and magic,” said Mr. Dutton. “Maloria reaches out to gesture the deer below, while a small songbird lands on her finger. Her appearance is stoic, reminiscing days of lore and fairytale. Her long cloak drapes to the ground like heavy sackcloth sheltering her from the elements, while adding to the mystery of her identity. A protector and guardian of the gardens, she communicates with the animals and gnomes that reside at Rock City to ensure the longevity of its natural splendor.”
“In keeping with Rock City Gardens’ commitment to the local art community, we are so pleased to have awarded this outdoor sculpture space to Matthew who is certainly an accomplished local artist, longtime friend and past employee of the company,” said Jeff Raabe, director of operations for SRC. “The piece meets all of our criteria including the connection to European folklore and Rock City’s rich heritage. It is a perfect fit for bringing out the original historic vision of the gardens as well as being beautifully sculpted.”
Mr. Dutton was born in Winter Park, Fla. and has lived and worked nearly 20 years in Chattanooga where he earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in sculpture at UTC. He has had many distinctive art-related experiences including a solo exhibition in New York, as well as published work in print media like the New York Times and Hi-Fructose Magazine, studio assisting with well-known artists, teaching at the Hunter Museum of American Art and several sculptures featured both locally and abroad. Mr. Dutton credits these contributions to the real-world knowledge and skillset he uses today.
More recently, he was the art specialist at Rock City Gardens building and restoring gnomes and fairytale statuary alongside Kim and Will Jackson. Currently, he is a display coordinator for Anthropologie where he focuses his artistic efforts towards installation-based art happenings and thematic site-specific narrative painting and sculptures. His other notable roles include being a husband and father.
Previous artists whose works live at Rock City Gardens include Roger Halligan, Isaac Duncan, John Henry, John McLeod, Michael Brandt and Jack Denton.
Rock City Gardens strives to serve as a leading cultural entertainment innovator. By partnering with local artisans, along with the growing festival and event calendar at the attraction, Rock City provides high quality and variety to the hundreds of thousands of guests annually, said officials.