Downtown Wilmington is being adorned with new outdoor art through Pedestrian Art Public Sculpture program. A free public reception is at Expo 216 on Front Street on Sunday, July 16. The artists will be there, along with sponsors from the Arts Council of Wilmington, the Dreams Center, Artworks, City of Wilmington, and more. Guests have the opportunity to take a trolley ride with the artists to see the 9 new installations-and some new locations downtown. Shuttle tours are at 1:00pm, 2:45, and 4:00, leaving from Expo 216. The reception itself begins at 2:00pm.
Listen to Arts Council Director Rhonda Bellamy and Pedestrian Art committee member (and owner of Art in Bloom) Amy Grant above, and see an extended transcript and photos below.
Gina: So let's talk about the public reception. For a long time these pieces are all in different places and it's not a unified thing. Mostly, people will run into these pieces. But there's actually a unified celebration and reception for the new collection.
Rhonda: Amy, you want to start?
Amy: Sure. At Expo 216, at 216 North Front Street at 2 p.m. on Sunday July 16th. We're having a great celebration. The artist who created this cycle's sculptures will be there and all of the sponsors, the businesses, the Arts Council, Dreams of Wilmington, and we'll celebrate the new cycle of sculptures. And then there are shuttle tours at 1:00 p.m., 2:45 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. to take everyone around to look at the news sites and the new sculptures.
Rhonda: Gina, as you mentioned, the sculptures are scattered throughout the city. And we've, in fact, added a few new locations in this particular cycle. And so the best way to take the public on a tour is by trolley. And so we will be boarding trolleys three times on Sunday to allow people who are interested in the Pedestrian Art Program to converse with the artist and also to see these pieces.
Gina: Will the artist be going on the tours?
Gina: Fun. So basically, what a fun little trolley tour. And the artist will be with you.
Amy: Each tour lasts about an hour.
Gina: And, you know, to do something like this-public art-it's not easy to do that. It's one thing to get someone to make art and put it in your building, on display. It's a complete other thing to be able to get land that's outdoors, and to be able to get an artist. You know, most artists don't make art that you can just put outside and leave it there for an extended period of time. So there's that. And it's expensive to do that kind of art. So how has this come together?
Rhonda: I would have to say that it is really due to the tremendous support that we've had from our business community. When the Arts Council was reestablished five years ago, that was the first thing that people asked about was whether we were going to reinstitute the very popular Pedestrian Art Public Sculpture Program that was started under Matt Dols and Creative Wilmington several years before that. And so we have had a community that's just ripe for this type of thing. They are excited about being able to help establish the region as an arts destination by showing people as soon as they come to town that, you know, you got pops of art all over the place.
Amy: Each sculpture is for sale. And when the work sells the artist receives a percentage and the Arts Council does, correct Rhonda?
Rhonda: Yes. So the artists receive 70 percent of the proceeds and the Arts Council receives a 30 percent commission.
Gina: Oh that's great. So it's kind of like the Arts Council is having the exhibit all over town.
Gina: How easy is it to sell these these huge pieces?
Rhonda: We sold two in the last installation.
Amy: One of the last ones that sold was called Wind. It was by two artists from Atlanta who emigrated from China. And so, in the very last days of the cycle, someone from Leland came in and just had to have it. So that was wonderful to know that that beautiful marble sculpture is still in our community. It was a marble sculpture of a face with...almost hair or wind coming off the face. So, even though it weighed 250 pounds, it looked like a cloud.
And the artists are just extraordinary people. And to have that a whole year in the courtyard of Art in Bloom Gallery was so exciting. And part of why I loved to volunteer for the Arts Council of Wilmington in New Hanover County-The Arts Council does so much behind the scenes to bring art to everyone. As Rhonda was saying, to our front porch. To make Wilmington more of an arts destination.
Gina: I just, I want to ask each of you, which one-actually, it doesn't need to be which one do you love the most, it could be which one do you find particularly striking, or interesting in some way, or, you know-it's not necessarily love. Which one do you want to tell me about?
Amy: Well, in my neighborhood near Art in Bloom gallery at 2nd and Market, there is a giant carved limestone hand called The Burning by Paris Alexander. And I walk past that every day, so I love hearing people talking about the meaning of the hand. And no two people ever have the same idea. Now, in close competition is the Stealing His Heart bronze sculpture by Guillaume Perez, and that's placed in the courtyard of Art in Bloom gallery. You can walk through 210 Princess Street or you can go in the alley between Market and Princess. And the story of that one- the Colombian sculptor fell in love with his wife so much that he said she stole his heart and she stole it in a way that's good. Not like a thief. She cares for his heart.
Gina: Nice. So she didn't actually rip it out of his body.
Amy: No! It's a man and woman walking together but it almost looks
ceramic. It's from Sandia Park New Mexico. That's where he lives now. And one thing that Rhonda does every year that again I enjoy being part of the Arts Council. She carefully selects where each sculpture should be placed. So you'll notice as you go and look at each site, for example, the Giant Gates by Jim Gallucci of Greensboro. Each one is placed in the most beautiful setting. They're huge. They're bigger than a house. And the difference between the six foot bronze and the courtyard versus this Giant Gate at Dreams of Wilmington, or along the Northern riverfront is just very striking. And the giant hand the limestone hand too.
Gina: Is that Oakleaf Horizon?
Rhonda: Yes, that's Oakleaf Horizon, and, in fact, three of the sculptures that we have by Jim Gallucci are gates. That's his signature. His motif, if you will. And we've had several of his gates over several installations. And every one of them is different. We have Divine Wind down at the Artworks at 2nd and Willard streets. We have Oakleaf Horizon II, which is based right in front of Dreams. And then we have Flutter II, which is on the Northern riverfront.
Amy: And we have the Purple Whisper Bench on the Northern riverfront by Jim Gallucci too.
Gina: Rhonda, which one kind of hits you?
Rhonda: I think I'm going to have to, you know, give a nod to Amy's choices. I would say that the hand right there at second and market street you know is very compelling. And if you walk around you’ll see that the back of the hand is not the same, the back of the hand is actually the bone structure. And as I was talking to Paris Alexander, who is the sculptor from Raleigh who created this piece, he apparently was in the medical field at one time and studied anatomy and so, the hand is set to be representative of what the inside of our hands look like.
Gina: Some of the pieces in the past- the pedestrian art pieces-like, you'll see it 100 times because, especially, if you're well-traveled path or, you know, places that you go and you see it. And then, at some point, you somehow get a different angle at it. And suddenly you see something different after you've seen it a hundred times and you're like, oh whoa. There's something else going on here. You know?
Rhonda: That is the magic of art, whether it's 2-D or 3-D art, the fact that you can walk past something time and time again and get a different vibe , come away with a different understanding of both the process and meaning or the interpretation, your interpretation, that’s the beauty of art.
Amy: In fact, when the committee was trying to select the sculptures, one Wilmington artist Nathan Ryan Verway had some photos. And it was really three angles of the same sculpture. But a lot of us didn't realize that and we thought they were three different sculptures. And so his sculpture called Raw Love will be at 815 Princes Street at Jengo's Playhouse. And I think that's one that is magic. That you'll see it at different angles and it looks completely different.
Gina: Let me let me ask you about the city and how the city works with pedestrian art.
Rhonda: the city has been very supportive, as you know. We have an annual appropriation for this from the city that supports in the Pedestrian Art Program. In addition, city staffers also provide manual labor. When the sculptures come in, and many of them are monumental-10 feet tall-we have to have special equipment and we have to have people that know how to install sculpture. And so, thankfully, we have Paul Hill who is also a part of our committee to help with the technical part of it. And then we have the city with the equipment and also knowing how to place sculpture. I'm the type that, you know, I think you put duct tape on everything and it will stay. So we're really happy to have their support.
Gina: Yeah, I see here that there's a piece-the heaviest I think is 1800 pounds.
Amy: Yes, that is one of Jim Gallucci's gates.
Gina: And actually, the lightest one...oh just a little 25 pound piece. And then it's, you know, 75 pounds. And then the next level is jumping up to 300 pounds.
Rhonda: They're very big pieces.