Roswell, Georgia takes its recreation very seriously. Fitness enthusiasts, outdoorsy types and families come to the city’s 900 acres (3.6 sq. km) of parks to jog, hike and learn Zen and the Art of crossing the monkey bars.
The north Atlanta suburb also takes its art very seriously. The Roswell Arts Fund sponsors the ArtAround Roswell, a “museum without walls,” in which they display an eclectic collection of sculptures.
As a result, Roswell pursues the balance of art and recreation so diligently that the city commissioned a sculptor to design their bike racks.
The outcome of Roswell’s quest for balance is a push-pull relationship. The community pushes the parks for stronger connections and the parks pull in the community by striving for balance and unity.
As well as connecting parks and communities, the push-pull theory has roots in the fitness and art families. For example, in weight training, a push-pull workout is based on opposing muscle movement patterns. A triceps extension pushes while a bicep curl pulls, resulting in arm symmetry.
Similar to the fitness world, the artistic push-pull uses contrasting colors and forms to create motion, opposition and synthesis. To illustrate, a blue circle on a yellow square establishes the idea of movement, contrast and unity.
Each park in Roswell attracts visitors with similar activities, paved shared-use paths, “spray ground” water parks and lessons in the correct way to fall off a paddleboard.
However, a few parks specialize in a unique activity with contrasting art to unify the experience and pull in visitors. So, let’s examine a few Roswell parks and how they push and pull to connect the people with art and recreation.
Don White Park
Don White park snakes along a bend in the Chattahoochee River. The park’s mixed-use trail is suitable for all skill levels of cycling, jogging and rollerblading. Moreover, the park’s location is ideal for launching rafts and kayaks. Nonetheless, what attracts visitors are the beach volleyball courts and the sculpture “Lunar Eclipse.”
In the push-pull connection theory, “Lunar Eclipse” acts as the push. The low viewpoint encourages viewers to gaze upward toward celestial bodies in motion. Furthermore, the orange and blue iron bars simulate a triceps, pectoral and deltoid bench pressing our viewpoint up and out. The artist balances the work with quadriceps like triangles simulate a weightlifter doing squats.
Contrasting “Lunar Eclipse” is the pull of beach volleyball. As the volleyball players dig to defend the serve, the ball’s motion pulls our viewpoint from left to right and right to left. In addition, the pulling motion of the biceps and latissimus dorsi concerning the ball creates an Arabesque motion. As a result, we see a curvilinear movement that provides unity and motion.
“Lunar Eclipse” and beach volleyball achieve balance on multiple levels. The medium of iron and paint in “Eclipse” contrasts the flesh, cotton and spandex medium of the volleyball players. In addition, the Constructivist extensions in “Eclipse” parallel the Expressionist digging of the volleyball players. Finally, we see true unity when the volleyball players use the statue for pre-game calf stretches.
Like Don White Park, Riverside park stretches down the Chattahoochee River. A major way the park connects with the community is the expansive lawn that faces a performance stage. When musicians aren’t performing, the stage becomes a makeshift Zumba studio. While the dancers push themselves with Calderesque energy, the Precisionist calm of “Waiting for a Train of Thought” pulls viewers in to take a breather.
The stage’s low viewpoint emphasizes the pushing motion of the Zumbarer’s calves as they push their toes to a Reggaeton rhythm. The figure ground relationship clearly separates the Zumbaists, making visual clarity quite pleasing.
On the other hand, “Waiting for a Train of Thought” pulls visitors in. The bending of the left elbow mimics a bicep curl, yet invites visitors to sit down and relax. Moreover, the eye-level viewpoint connects the viewer with the seated man.
Riverside park’s balance comes from the upbeat tempo of the Zumbaist’s workout contrasting with the man’s relief in “Waiting.” We find more contrast in the materials, the stiff wood and deck screws of “Waiting” countering the flexible Lycra in the Zumbarers. Ultimately, we see unity when the Zumbaists do planks on the “Waiting” tracks before they cool down.
East Roswell Park
Unlike Don White and Riverside parks, East Roswell park has no relation to moving water. However, the recreation area features exquisite tennis courts, summer camps to enrich the kids and top-notch athletic fields. Yet, visitors come to the park to play Roswell’s only disc golf course and view “Sweet Pops of Brilliance.”
Disc golf offers the push in the art-recreation connection. The eye-level viewpoint of a disc golfer launching the disc gives us the feeling of connectedness with the golfer. The core abdominal muscles stabilize the golfer while the anterior deltoids and triceps push the disc, giving the release a kinetic emphasis.
Conversely, “Sweet Pops of Brilliance” gives us the pull. The low viewpoint pulls our gaze upwards along the twisting steel lines; similar to a bodybuilder working the scalene muscles. The implied ellipses in the whimsical bright primary shades pull the trapezius muscles laterally, giving a complete neck workout.
Examined together, the pattern of the round golf disc and circular lollipop shapes in “Sweet Pops” strike a familiar balance. Yet, the Hellenistic qualities of the disc golfer in mid fling contrast the post-modern frizz of “Sweet Pops.” In the end, disc golf and “Sweet Pops” achieve unity when the disc golfers use the statue as target practice to warm up.
The city of Roswell strives to connect its parks with the community. The city pulls visitors in with a range of activities and uses art to encourage lingering as well as unintentional workout equipment. Consequently, Roswell’s parks employ contrast and movement to achieve unity in the mind, body and spirit. As the writer and avid rollerblader Lin Yutang said, “Art is both creation and recreation.”