Mint partners with Charlotte Area Transit System for public art installation

Gandy Dancer will be visible to light-rail passengers from the atrium lobby of the CATS Light Rail Facility on South Boulevard.

A new public art installation is joining the Charlotte Area Transit System’s light rail line this week. Gandy Dancer, a glass, bronze, and wood sculpture by Steve Linn, an American artist living in France, is being installed in the atrium lobby of the CATS Light Rail Facility at 3200 South Boulevard and will be visible to passengers riding the LYNX Blue Line as light rail cars go by outside its windows.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to showcase Gandy Dancer at our CATS Light Rail Facility,” said Rocky Paiano, CATS General Manager of Rail Operations.  “The location of this sculpture creates a blended crossroads of the vast history of rail in this country to the future of mass transit in Charlotte.”

“The Mint Museum is pleased to once again share inspiration with the larger community beyond our own walls,” said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of The Mint Museum. “Gandy Dancer is a spectacular work and we look forward to the reactions and engagement of the community as it goes on public view.”

The sculpture, a gift to the museum from Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, is a community outreach loan by The Mint Museum, which has loaned many of its works for public view throughout the region.  The term of the loan, made at no cost to CATS, is two years. Its installation was facilitated in collaboration with the CATS Art-in-Transit Program. This is the first time that CATS has displayed an artwork loaned by The Mint Museum.

Gandy Dancer commemorates the workers who built America’s railroads; its name comes from a slang term for the workers whose origin is unknown (though a common explanation suggests the motion of the workers implied dancing and their tools were said to be made by a company named Gandy). The sculpture depicts, in glass and bronze, five figures in different stages of motion that represent a single worker driving a railroad spike. The depiction has been compared with the stop-motion photographs of photographer Eadweard Muybridge (1830 – 1904). A handcar and track are rendered in wood. The use of glass to depict the gandy dancer adds a ghostly quality to the sculpture, suggesting the impact of past workers on infrastructure such as railroads that contemporary viewers encounter in their daily lives.

When installed, Gandy Dancer will create a visual dialogue about the history of railroad transportation in the United States. The sculpture, called “a wonderful combination of fact and fantasy” by Richard Maschal, arts critic for The Charlotte Observer, was previously loaned to the Charlotte Convention Center on South College Street in 2004. Donors Greenberg and Steinhauser, who live in California, have a strong relationship with The Mint Museum and have given several works of art in various media over the last 15 years.

 Steve Linn was born in Chicago and graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.S. in agriculture in 1965. As a sculptor, he worked primarily in wood and bronze until the early 1980s, when he added glass to his repertoire. He told the Los Angeles Times in 1992: “I like the danger, the possibility of risk glass poses. It challenges you.” Since 1993, he has maintained a studio in Claret, France. His work has been exhibited around the United States since 1969 and internationally since 1994, and was featured in the 1992 film “A League of Their Own.” He has taught at Smith College in Massachusetts; University of California, Santa Cruz; Pratt Institute in New York; and Centre European Recherche & Formation Arts du Verre in France.

Image caption:
Steve Linn. American, 1943-
Gandy Dancer   1986
Sandblasted glass, bronze, wood
7 x 19 x 7 feet (h x w x d)
Gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser