Norfolk’s public art not only distinguishes us from other cities, but also brings great awareness to our community’s values. Giant sculptures, iron statues and a life-size kaleidoscope are all pieces that are scattered throughout our city for your enjoyment. While there are more than 50 pieces of public art (and counting), we’ve rounded up the must-see pieces for you.
Artist: Electroland (Cameron McNall, Damon Seeley)
Location: MacArthur Square
Metalmatisse (pictured above, @heatspell, Instagram) resembles a giant-sized futuristic flower pot, is made of stainless-steel and is completely interactive. Visitors can activate lights and sounds in 14 locations by standing in view of an aimed sensor inside of each flower. Visit the piece of art at the right time and the entire sculpture comes to life in an orchestrated chorus of light and sound.
Artist: Knox Garvin
Location: Eastern Virginia Medical School, Fairfax Avenue
Norfolk’s light rail transportation, the Tide, has public art featured among its stations, like the Wind and Tide; a multi-colored image that is printed on laminate placed within a layer of glass. Artist Knox Garvin, a Norfolk Public Schools teacher at the time, designed this piece based on the movement of the train, the wind and the local tides. The art work is transparent, making for a beautifully lit design on a sunny day.
Artist: Matthew Geller
Location: NEON District
Not your typical brush and paint type of art, Upper Blush is an eye-catching circular canopied bench located in the NEON District. While your legs dangle from the bench swing, you simultaneously create movements that direct rain water to flow down a pipe which feeds into a nearby garden, repurposing the water and aiding in local flooding issues.
Artist: Stanley Bleifeld
Location: 113 Waterside Dr
While the Lone Sailor represents the past, present and future Navy bluejacket, it is by no means a lonely statue. Lone Sailor is accompanied by eight bronze commemorative plaques of Norfolk-based ships and submarines that have met with tragedy – and one plaque that recalls the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. The plaques are: USS Cole, USS Forrestal, USS Iowa, USS Liberty, USS Nimitz, USS Newport News, USS Scorpion and The Pentagon.
Artist: Rhiza A+D (Ean Eldred, Richard Garfield, John Kashiwabara, Peter Nylen)
Location: Harbor Park
If you arrive in Norfolk via the Amtrak Train you will be greeted by this three-part steel and aluminum structure the moment you leave the station. The first structure represents the history of boat building and shipping, and is layered like the outside of an oyster shell. The second sculpture, which is in the median portion of the drop of lane, mimics the commonly-seen profile of large ships. A railroad tress and oyster tongs support a reef like collection with railroad signal lights and radar forms on top. Lastly, the third sculpture merges the biology of the Elizabeth River’s natural reef forms with Norfolk Virginia’s great shipping industry.
Artist: Glassatorium (Joan Biddle, Hannah Kirkpatrick, Charlotte Potter, Kristi Totoritis), Joan Biddle
Location: 776 Granby St.
An essential piece of public art to Norfolk’s NEON Arts District, Cementiscope is an interactive life-sized kaleidoscope. As you manually crank the large black and white striped drum, colorful glass appears to tumble via reflective mirrors but only the glass within close proximity to the mirrors gets reflected, allowing viewers to see Norfolk in a whole new way. Colorful shape combinations are enhanced by integrated LED lights. Due to the randomness of the tumbling action, you’ll never see the same set of images twice.
Artist: Deedee Morrison
Location: Larchmont Library Trail Head
This massive three-paneled piece of art decorates the lawn of the Larchmont Library and can be seen when traveling along the Elizabeth River Trail. The middle panel is made of resin and is an interpretation of the entire Elizabeth River watershed. While the middle panel is the most colorful, the panels to either side of it are made of steel and pay tribute to native plants.
Artist: Tommy Fox
Location: Brambleton Avenue and Yarmouth Street, Norfolk VA 23510
The Jumbo-Wumbo Technico stands 32-feet in the air, aiming to grab your attention and connect the NEON Arts District - a mural infused neighborhood - to the prestigious Chrysler Museum of Art. The Jumbo-Wumbo Technico is an anchor to the newly designed sculpture park. The artist, Tommy Fox, hopes you will spend time admiring the artwork and interpret it however you please, maybe a boat with sails or a tree with leaves; use your imagination!
Location: Town Point Park
This huge anchor, 30,000 pounds to be exact, plays perfectly into Norfolk’s large military population. The USS Antietam was commissioned on January 28, 1945 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, served in the Pacific for most of her career and earned two battle stars for service in the Korean Conflict.