Rock City is not just for tourists. Neither is it only for folks to wander through its immaculately landscaped natural beauty, leashed dogs in tow. Although it is a wonderful spot to be awed by the wonders of nature and the artistic hand of man, it’s also a spot for the art connoisseur.
Rock City now has several sculptures in the midst of breathtaking arrays of native blooming plants. Ranging in size and subject from a silver metal structure, perhaps depicting a gingerbread house, to an abstract metal work that seems to defy the laws of gravity as it balances on a lush green lawn, all of these extraordinary pieces were created by artists who were simply asked to let the natural beauty of Rock City’s Enchanted Trail inspire them. And indeed, as one gazes at each piece, somehow he finds his spirit quieted.
Matthew Dutton was selected in 2016 to create a new exhibit for the park, which he entitled “Maloria, Mother of the Wild.” His life-sized piece ties in art and nature with the heritage of Rock City Gardens, and stands on a high rock shelf above the deer fallow and below the Swing-A-Long Bridge.
“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. “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.”
Mr. Dutton’s robed figure indeed evokes a sense of whimsy, history and magic. “Maloria reaches out to gesture to the deer below, while a small songbird lands on her finger," Mr. Dutton says about his piece. "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."
Mr. Dutton was born in Winter Park, Fl., 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.
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.
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Ferris Robinson is the author of three children’s books, “The Queen Who Banished Bugs,” “The Queen Who Accidentally Banished Birds,” and “Call Me Arthropod” in her pollinator series. “Making Arrangements” is her first novel, and the ebook is on promotion until April 7. “Dogs and Love - Stories of Fidelity” is a collection of true tales about man’s best friend. Her website is ferrisrobinson.com and you can download a FREE pollinator poster there. She is the editor of The Lookout Mountain Mirror and The Signal Mountain Mirror.