(UPDATE) JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)– Johnson City officials confirmed with News Channel 11 the Public Works department removed the mysterious monolith in King Commons Park Monday afternoon.
In an e-mail Monday afternoon, Johnson City officials said the following:
“While the City of Johnson City appreciates the level of interest that the monolith in King Commons has generated, it was removed this afternoon in order to protect the integrity of our parks and public art program. We have a process for the approval and installation of public art and pieces that are not vetted through that process are not allowable.”
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Johnson City has its very own unexplained monolith — part of a two-month old global trend.
The 10-foot high stainless steel piece is near the north end of King Commons Park, planted in the grass. On a chilly Monday morning it gleamed above Larry Thacker, a resident who walks in the park and downtown on a regular basis.
“Like lots of folks, on the internet I’d seen one, first out in the Utah desert,” Thacker said. “I’m fascinated with the phenomenon.
That made his Monday morning walk quite a treat.
“When I came around the corner it was shining in the sun and here it was, Johnson City’s very own,” Thacker said. “I wondered if eventually somebody would put one out here.”
Zach Bush lives adjacent to the park and said he saw the placement from across the park. It was around 3:30 a.m. New Year’s morning, he said, when a vehicle drove up, about five people wearing all black, got out and quickly installed the guerrilla artwork.
Thacker is a fan of the city’s public art installations and said even though the three-sided monolith is unauthorized, he hopes the city will consider letting it be.
“As opposed to over in Founders Park there’s not a lot of public art over on this side. I think this would be a great way to start some. I would hope they wouldn’t come get it and take it away.”
News Channel 11 reached out to the City of Johnson City Monday morning and is waiting for a response about the park’s newest addition.
For his part, Thacker’s all for the whimsy and self-interpretation of art and said he thinks the monolith movement is especially valuable right now.
“It’s about curiosity, it’s about self-interpretation, and with what’s going on in the world right now with the pandemic, anything that threads together some sort of international curiosity I think is healthy,” Thacker said.
“So I would like for it to stay and I think that would be a very simple thing to do.”
This is a developing story. Look for updates on WJHL.com.