Bailey Park vs. ARTivity on the Green

by Britt Chester | @awfullybrittishWinston-Salem has seen two public green spaces open in 2015. On April 10, Bailey Park, located in the Innovation Quarter with a giant concrete backdrop of construction and commercial development, held its grand opening. Then on May 9, ARTivity on the Green, located on Liberty Street between Sixth and Seventh Streets, held it’s grand opening. Each space has its unique perks, but which do you think is better?

ARTivity on the Green is the brought-to-life vision of Stitch Design Shop, a boutique architecture and design firm based in Winston-Salem. The park features a long wall used by commissioned painters to create 13 original murals showcasing the talents from local and regional artists.

Leading up to the grand opening, thick red lines were painted along Liberty and Trade Street’s sidewalks leading to the park. These lines led to the towering red pylons that blast a cloud of mist every 30 minutes.

It’s the water feature of the park, which was envisioned by Stitch Design Shop. These “smokestacks” also happen to fit perfectly within the Reynolds Tower when viewed from the northwest corner of the park. To get the perfect alignment, one must get on an elevated level, like the rooftop of Luna Lounge & Tiki Bar or The Garage (Disclaimer: We do not condone trespassing.) What’s funny about these smokestacks is that they also line up with Pilot Mountain, something made apparent through Instagram conversation with Stitch Design Shop.

The rest of the park is very Seussian. The topography is playful, and one can only guess that the inspiration came from the neighboring mountains in such close proximity to Winston-Salem. Even the smokestacks emitting fog is a nod to the Reynolds history in the town.

A ribbon shelter at the south end of the park doubles as a stage that has already seen a handful of acts perform on during the ARTivity After Dark series hosted by Art For Art’s Sake, the non-profit organization that spearheaded the parks development thanks to a $2 million grant from the Thomas J. Regan Jr. foundation.

Bailey Park is the 1.6-acre space located on Patterson Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Street. Although much larger than ARTivity, the public space is separated into two sections: The elevated portion features a large stage, seating area with tables, and restroom and storage facilities. The outdoor stage was used by Phuzz Phest for outdoor concerts, as well as being currently used for screenings of films at the weekly Bailey Park Movie Series.

The open space, which has the greenest grass in the city, is commonly filled with dog walkers, couples enjoying a picnic with the sunset, and other activities. Most recently, Bailey Park was the center of attention during the Winston-Salem Cycling professional criterium race. The event that once circled where Artivity now sits has moved to circumnavigate Bailey Park. The park also created an outdoor music park that saw The Wailers and Rusted Root play before a very large crowd.

A retaining wall separating the upper stage area from the open space features an extensive mural by Winston-Salem’s Laura Lynn Lashley. The organic floral image, a common theme for Lashley’s murals, juxtaposes nicely against the concrete structures to the park’s north, and the concrete structural skeletons that will soon house more parts of Wake Forest School of Medicine and Wake Forest University.

So there you have it: Two parks in Winston-Salem that worked with artists to create spaces where artists can create. Both spaces are a step in the right direction for a city looking to expand and grow as it moves into the next iteration of manufacturing creativity. !

(Disclosure: Britt Chester has been paid for freelance video services from the AFAS Group and Wake Forest.)