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Advisory panel picks public art finalists

An artist will construct gateway art at Sixth and Main. An artist will construct gateway art at Sixth and Main.

Downtown advisers have chosen finalists for two public art displays that will be part of the city's makeover of the 500 and 600 blocks of North Main Street.

The Public Art Steering Committee selected three artists for a fountain sculpture in the First Citizens plaza at Sixth and Main and three for "gateway" art southwest corner of Seventh and Main, where Umi restaurant is located. Steering committee members were Patty Smyers of the Henderson County Arts Council, BRCC film teacher and Emmy award-winning TV producer Peter Goldsmith and Main Street coordinator Lew Holloway.
The Main Street Advisory Committee accepted the steering committee's recommendation last week "with the caveat that anybody chosen would have to become familiar with Main Street," said committee chairman Tom Orr.
A request for qualifications publicized in arts magazines generated 19 applications from seven states for the fountain and 24 applications from nine states for the Seventh and Main sculpture.
The Sixth and Main fountain finalists were Berry Bate of Asheville, Wayne Trapp of Boone and Joaquin Palencia of Makati City, Philippines. The Seventh and Main gateway finalists were Jim Gallucci of Greensboro, Phil Proctor of Atlanta and Bruce White of Dekalb, Ill.
The steering committee gave preference to artists from the state and region. It based judging on whether the artist's work had "the potential to enhance the communal view of downtown," become a "central piece" in the Main Street landscape and "become a 'site' to be visited by tourists as well as locals," Holloway told the downtown advisers. The committee also considered whether the artist could produce the work on time and on budget and work well with the landscape architect, contractors and city personnel.
Because the Main Street program wants to highlight the assembly of the work while under way, the committee also considered how the art team would "interface with the public while the construction is in progress."
The finalists are working on 3D conceptual designs that City Council members will review on Oct. 4, choosing an artist for each project. The public art is part of the city's $1.4 million makeover of the northernmost blocks of Main Street, the third of three downtown streetscape projects.
"We're very excited about it," Holloway said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with. I think it's going to be a range, which I think will be good."