The Cleveland Street Art Carrots
The story behind the large carrots named "Root Riders", lining Pearl Road in Cleveland.
Driving down Pearl Road from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to its intersection with State Road, it’s hard not to notice the eight whimsical carrot sculptures that dot the streetscape and ponder their significance. The carrots are playful and imaginative and meant to spark something in you along the streetscape of Old Brooklyn. They appear to be performing carrots in various positions atop very tall unicycles.
There are eight of them that have sprouted up from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo entrance on Pearl down to State Road split.
The project actually points to the history of Old Brooklyn where major growers once operated. During the late 1880s, farmers in Old Brooklyn were among the first in the Midwest to use greenhouses to cultivate vegetables, and by the 1920s the neighbourhood was one of the nation's leading producers of green house vegetables, with more than 100 acres under glass. The progress of the 1960's saw a housing boom and the Jennings Freeway wipe out the greenhouses in Old Brooklyn.
It's the work of artist Melissa Daubert and she calls it, "Root Riders." She has completed several public art projects as well as a long time position with the Great Lakes Science Center. Mellisa's website here.
Based on Old Brooklyn’s history combined with present day trends, the idea was to create a series of sculptural pieces reminiscent of root vegetables freshly pulled from the ground. Melissa felt the imagery of these giant carrots along Pearl Ave would brings to mind nature, growth or possibly “what will prepare for dinner tonight?”
A root vegetable was chosen as the visual icon for this streetscape because root crops are common in our cold climate. Root vegetables store well creating a stable food source throughout winter. And because they like colder climates they grow longer into the year. Root can also be considered the source or origin, the essential core or heart. For example “get to the root of the matter” Root is also to establish, applaud or encourage: To root someone on, cheer to wish success or lend support to.
The carrot sculptures were installed in fall 2017 via the City of Cleveland Public Art Program as part of a larger $10 million streetscape improvement initiative on Pearl Road. The brainchild of local artist Melissa Daubert, the carrots pay a quirky homage to Old Brooklyn’s rich background in greenhouse farming.
Though the construction of OH-176 and new housing developments displaced many of those once-thriving greenhouses, urban farming continues to matter in Old Brooklyn—home to the state’s largest community garden. The idea is] based on Old Brooklyn’s history combined with present-day trends,” Daubert wrote in her proposal. “I feel the imagery of these giant vegetables along Pearl Road brings to mind nature, growth
Daubert’s proposal was chosen among 30 responses to a call for artists. Daubert’s concept was chosen because of her distinctive style, use of unconventional materials (such as coconut hair), and its tie-in to the neighborhood. She did a great job of coming up with something unique to Old Brooklyn and relevant to its history. The approach is akin to the Edgewater Hill Blue Birds found throughout Detroit Shoreway. The carrots really emphasize the district’s unique personality.
Initially the idea involved attaching the carrots to utility poles, but when that was nixed by the power company, the artist had to go back to square one. Originally she I just wanted to make these root vegetables sticking out on Pearl, up in the air, making these cool shadows, instead, the end product features freestanding carrot sculptures atop metal sculptures designed to look like oversized unicycles ; the sculptures also double as bike racks!
Construction - The sculptures have a lightweight welded metal cage like armature Covered with bristle coir wrapped in wire. Foliage on top of the sculptures will be created from Polyblend Fade Resistant Artificial Foliage manufactured specifically for outdoor commercial use. This Faux Foliage has a fade resistance warranty of 5 years from the manufacturer. Coir Fiber (coconut hair) is a strong, durable and versatile fiber typically used in erosion control, sediment control, landscaping and gardening. It is an abundant, renewable natural resource. The tensile strength of coir exceeds straw, wood and jute. It has high abrasion resistance. Typically used in matts, brushes, mattresses, floor tiles, sacks and twine. Coir naturally repels water and is one of the few natural fibers resistant to damage by salt water. It can be bleached or dyed. Coir is unpalatable to wildlife so animals will not eat it. Coir does not support the growth bacteria or mold spores.
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