Monday, August 4, 2014

Grande Disco on the Square

   ''Grande Disco' - not 'Il Grande Disco', as it has come to be known -  caused a furor when Arnoldo Pomodoro installed it on October 2, 1974.  An Italian Sculptor hired to commemorate Charlotte's best-known intersection?  But he gave us a 15-foot bronze disc with open areas from which 'teeth' protrude jaggedly, and brought a permanent sunburst of light to a glass-enclosed area.
   'Grande Disco' has undergone changes. First, it rotated, then it was stopped. It moved again, then stopped again. Vandals covered it with graffiti and its detractors covered it with scorn, but city officials and time have washed both away respectively.' 
- Charlotte Observer opinion piece, undated, possibly written by Richard Maschal, former arts writer.
*Unfortunately our clip files don't say when the sculpture's revolving was stopped --- anybody know?*

Do Charlotteans have a nickname for the sculpture, as in 'the onion rings' at the corner of Randolph & Wendover, and 'Disco Chicken' (the Firebird at the Bechtler)?

Skateboarders call it 'The Penny'...

'Pomodore's Grande Disco at the Square.' 
1974. John Daughtry/Staff



'A hungry young man from old Frisco
Took a bite from the golden Grande Disco,
When asked how he liked it
He said,'Seems they have spiked it -
It sure doesn't taste like Nabisco.'
 1974. John Daughtry/Staff
(The Observer must have run a limerick contest.)



Artist Arnaldo Pomodoro inspects the installation process.  
1974. John Daughtry/Staff




'Grande Disco twirls rapidly in blustery winds. Photographer left camera shutter open one second for effect.'
1974. Steve Perille/Staff




'Two men work at greasing up the bronze sculptural disc at the NCNB Plaza downtown. It had stopped turning in the wind.'
1980. Don Hunter/Staff




Graffiti, 1980.
Tina loves Michael Pruitt. Hmm. Wonder how that turned out.




'Grande Disco is getting an early spring facelift. It has been moved to a temporary base, and all the graffiti written on it and scratched into it will be removed. The sculpture will then get a coat of protective polyester lacquer. It also will get a new bearing in its old base, being examined by NCNB employee Dale Watts, which will enable it to turn.'
1980. Tom Franklin/Staff



'Grande Disco at the Radisson Plaza.'
1984. Don Hunter/Staff



'Mike Kaloudis takes advantage of the mild temperatures and skateboards around the sculpture 'Grande Disco' at the corner of Tryon and Trade Streets. 
2001. Lou Ellen Plummer photo



18 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a duplicate of one in Italy - I think Milan - but don't know which came first. Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Good to see Steve Perille's name again!

Maria David said...

Anon 10:19 - Steve Perille was so talented!

Anonymous said...

Heard it called the Flying Saucer a few times

Maria David said...

Anon- 9:52 - good call! I looked it up and the original is in Milan.

Scott Owens said...

It was also the marker to the gates of Hell in "Hellraiser III"

Anonymous said...

There is another on the grounds of PepsiCo in Purchase, NY

Anonymous said...

I like it. I've always liked it. It's a nice piece for the bronze glass-clad office tower and hotel that caused it to be created in the first place. But I'd like it anywhere.

Extra Special Bonus: It annoys conservative Charlotte to death, who would probably prefer columns with paste-on pediments. In red brick, of course.

Anonymous said...

There are several pieces like this one by the same artist. They vary in size and composition. I think the one closest in appearance is on the grounds of the University of Chicago.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:28, funny you mention red brick. How original are the red clay disk on the Blue line? Thought I read somewhere the artists also sold these same works of "art" to unsuspecting liberals in other cities. Forget the homeless and less fortunate, "we got to get us some of those big ol' red bricks to be world class".

Anonymous said...

Yeah big wa

Anonymous said...

yeah a big waste of money.

Anonymous said...

but 40 million for minor league baseball is perfectly ok?

Anonymous said...

While on a tour of Rome in 2008, our group paused by an art installation inside the Vatican gardens. It was by the same artist. When I told our guide about the Charlotte piece he became so excited and I became the immediate "star" of his tour! I came from a city where this Italian artist was represented!

Ann Doss Helms said...

I heard a tour guide say the textured part is supposed to look like an aerial view of a city.

Anonymous said...

What's annoying is that dumbed-down easily-offended people DOWNTOWN locked it in place. Common sense or good reflexes would keep it from knocking you down back then.
Also that folks with absolutely no respect for anything wrote on it. Same ones that walk across the blvd without looking, expecting the traffic to part.
Liberals are like slinkies, they're only fun when you push them down the stairs. (joke HA HA)

Russ Ferguson said...

This website has photos of all the Grand Discos: http://daydreamtourist.com/tag/grande-disco/

Larry said...

There are Witches buried under it, which were burned at the stake years ago.

I hope this story does not cause them to rise and take out their festering anger on Charlotte folks like they declared back on that horrid night.

Only families who have lived in Charlotte for generations know this as it was passed down over and over.