With the community’s support, “Combination” is planned to unveil in December on Community Circle
For decades, Midlothian has been proud to call itself a collaborative community, one in which its residents and business interests have worked together to achieve success. That unique spirit of collaboration will be represented in “Combination,” a site-specific sculpture that has been designed, is currently being developed, and will be installed by Brad Oldham Sculpture.
The steel-and-concrete, 26-foot-tall piece, set for a December 2015 unveiling at Community Center Circle, has two purposes. First, it will create a focal point – a visual landmark piece – around which residents and visitors can gather. And second, the piece will represent the collaborative strength of the Midlothian community.
“The community and industry in Midlothian are a special collection of uniquely kind, intelligent people that I’m honored to know and become a part of,” said Brad Oldham, artist and co-owner of Brad Oldham Sculpture. “My hope is that ‘Combination’ can create a space for people to be a part of, and to make their own for generations to come.”
Tying Pieces Together
The space of which Oldham speaks is currently Community Center Circle, a plaza that houses a fountain, and which is rimmed by the Midlothian Senior Citizens Center, the city’s conference center, and a currently under-construction Courtyard by Marriott. Nearby, on Mount Zion Road, is Midlothian Higher Education Center at the Navarro College Campus.
“Combination,” consisting of concrete and two interwoven steel beams with oversized features of iconic nail on each end that represent the strength and collaboration of the Midlothian community, is charged with connecting the buildings of which it will be a part, rather than overpowering them.
Adding to the piece’s visual appeal will be “Joe,” a bronze sculpture of a man at the piece’s base, positioned as if he is directing work. While the twisted beams are the business-community collaboration, Joe is the human element, the driving force behind the Midlothian community’s success.
Surrounding “Combination” will be 80 cast concrete blocks, 20 inches tall by 24 inches wide with 20 openings every fifth space to create 100 spaces surrounding the sculpture. The 18th and 88th blocks will be cast as triangles and stained a contrasting color to highlight the years during which the Midlothian community was founded and incorporated.
We Are Midlothian
Finally, a new slogan, "We Are Midlothian," will be poured into place, within the seating circle, which consists of decomposed granite.
“’Combination’ is a wonderful piece, partly because it represents how Midlothian is collaborative and partly because the piece itself consists of materials actually made here,” said Midlothian Mayor Bill Houston. He said he liked the fact that the piece is strong, with clean, simple lines, as opposed to a fussy sculpture. The piece is also low-maintenance, which means few dollars will be spent in maintaining its pristine appearance.
“The looped imagery represented by the twisted nails is a nod to Midlothian’s closed-loop production practices in making building materials. Additionally, we’re hoping that those who view this piece will have a sense that a powerful force – like Superman – bent the beams,” said Christy Coltrin, artist and co-owner of Brad Oldham Sculpture. “The feeling should translate to representation of the strong men and women in Midlothian who are making things happen.”
Background and Base
It was collaboration and strength that Midlothian Economic Development sought when discussing the project; specifically, a landmark visual that would combine the Midlothian community and its growing industrial base in a visually appealing piece. Larry Barnett, President and CEO of Midlothian Economic Development, said the council was after an artistic piece that depicted Midlothian as a place where things get done.
"This, in turn, led to commissioning Brad Oldham Sculpture to create a site-specific installation which will help launch the Midlothian Arts Council, " Barnett said.
Dallas-based Brad Oldham Sculpture has had plenty of experience with site-specific installations, having co-created and installed “The Traveling Man” in Dallas’ Deep Ellum and created “SkaterBIRD” in downtown, “The Birth of a City” at Encore Park in addition to national monumental installations at National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Wayne Gretzky Sports Center in Brantford, Ontario, and more. Oldham’s pieces are place-making sculptures; in other words, they tell stories, while encouraging people to visit the piece, to sit and ponder it, and to engage the viewer.
Inspiration for 'Combination'
During their site visit to Midlothian and follow-up interviews with the city’s leaders and residents, Oldham and Coltrin found the unique Midlothian community, which combines business interests and residents’ needs into an active and successful partnership. The result is “Combination.”
“This sculpture is a great representation of how it takes groups, people, the business community, and individuals to build and maintain our community,” said Tami Tobey, community leader and Midlothian Community Development Corp. chair.
Along with the City Council and residents, local businesses including Gerdau, Ash Grove Cement Company, Holcim US, Martin Marietta, Gatehouse Capital, and UEB Builders have pitched in to help. These businesses are providing materials, labor, and money, giving the piece a truly local flair.
More Than an Artistic Piece
For Oldham and Coltrin, “Combination” is more than an artistic piece. It’s providing an educational opportunity as well.
To that end, Brad Oldham Sculpture is including students from Midlothian High School and Midlothian Heritage High School throughout the fabrication and installation of the sculpture. The purpose is to expose students to two disciplines that Oldham and Coltrin use in creating site-specific installations.
Engineering students will be able to study the engineering reports and get a better understanding of the various elements necessary to create a large-format sculpture and the correct calculations on hand to install it. From the artistic side, creative writing students – with access to “Combination’s” backstory – will be invited to write about the artwork, and their own interpretations and viewpoints of it.
Oldham and Coltrin are also filming the process, from the start of the sculpture through its completion, installation, and unveiling in December. The video will be presented to the city following the installation.
A Great Representation of the Midlothian Community
Though the piece, upon installation, will be an eye-catching focal point, business leaders and the Midlothian community see its creation and execution as so much more. Community leader Tobey, for example, speaks of the sculpture as a great representation of how the Midlothian community and groups regularly work together to ensure Midlothian is a great place to work and do business. Mayor Houston, in the meantime, points to the wide support the piece has received, as well as his appreciation that the materials being used are made in Midlothian.
“I see ‘Combination’ as more than a beautiful and inviting way to link the Midlothian Convention Center campus with the new hotel,” said Midlothian Economic Development’s Barnett. “It allows us to tell our story in a dynamic, artistic framework.”