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Where Is Queen Charlotte? Holding Court In Yard Between Parking Decks

Diedra Laird
Charlotte Observer

Queen Charlotte isn’t greeting visitors to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport terminal these days. But she’s not hiding – she’s just keeping watch from a new location.

The airport’s iconic statue of the city’s royal namesake has been temporarily relocated. It has been moved from its home of more than 20 years in front of the terminal while the airport undertakes several long-term construction projects.

In January, the 15-foot-high bronze statue was moved to the courtyard between the east and west daily parking decks. Airport officials say the statue will find a permanent home once airport construction is completed.

Construction projects are scheduled to be ongoing at least through 2015.

The statue’s future location has not yet been chosen, but its sculptor, Raymond Kaskey, said he hopes the statue will be in a place where it will be noticed. Nicole Bartlett, program director of public art for the Arts & Science Council, said it will be a collaborative decision made by the airport and ASC.

Bartlett said the statue is “significant to our community” and an important feature for visitors to the airport. The ASC oversees the city and county’s public art projects.

“I think that it should be in a prominent location. I think wherever it goes it needs to help create a sense of place,” Barlett said.

Queen Charlotte made her debut at the airport in 1990. A private group of donors known as the Queens Table commissioned the statue for $250,000.

It was designed and sculpted by Kaskey of Washington, D.C., who also created the four statues at Independence Square and the national World War II Memorial sculptures.

The statue honors Queen Charlotte, wife of Great Britain’s King George III at the time English settlers incorporated the city in 1768.

The queen is depicted in an unusual forward-arched pose with arms outstretched, holding up her crown in one hand. Bartlett said the statue’s pose reminds her of some type of modern dance move.

“Being an airport, doing an 18th-century queen and the whole 18th-century garb seemed a little out of touch or not particularly appropriate,” Kaskey said. “So that kind of led to the pose, which, contrary to what people think, she’s not falling backward, but being held up by the wind.”

Kaskey said that image of Queen Charlotte relates to an airplane also being held up by the wind.

As the first piece of public art installed at the airport, the statue helped make the airport feel like a gateway to Charlotte and set a tone that says the city values art, Bartlett said.

For many people, she said, “(the airport) may be the only view they ever get of our city.”

“And we want it to be a good one,” Bartlett said. “Art can really serve that role.”

More at CharlotteObserver.com