Public art is no stranger to shoppers and tourists walking the streets of Waynesville. From 1999 to 2004, the temporary art in public places program known as StreetScapes enhanced the downtown landscape. The rotating exhibitions featured regional artists working in sculptural media. The success of the program led to an interest in creating artworks that would leave a more permanent footprint and endearing impression on residents and visitors to downtown Waynesville.
The Public Art Committee, an outgrowth of the StreetScapes Committee, began investigating options for public art. The idea of a multitude of public art placements, linked thematically to the particular heritage and context of Waynesville was appealing. The Public Art Committee identified cultural, natural, historical and social resources as the guiding principles for public art. During the planning process, the Public Art Committee provided background information about the community of Waynesville and participated in a brainstorming meeting to help define the vision for the plan. The planning process also involved a community education and feedback opportunity. The Public Art Community Forum was held on October 28, 2004 and attended by over fifty individuals. This event was facilitated by Laura Coats, Public Art Plan Consultant and funded by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council through the “Creating Places Public Art and Design Initiative”
To pursue this vision for community art, the Town of Waynesville Board of Aldermen created the Waynesville Public Art Commission in January, 2006. The Commission developed a mission statement that states “the goal of the Public Art Commission is “to engage the community and enrich public places through original art that celebrates Waynesville’s unique historic, cultural, natural and human resources.”
The Commission consisted of 9 Waynesville residents from diverse backgrounds in education, the arts, business and medicine. Starting from scratch, the group has developed documents including policies and procedures and proposals for projects. Each project officially begins with a call for artists, but before the call is posted on the town website, many details including topic, site, scope, schedule, cost, specifications and pertinent information for artists need to be defined.
After each call has been issued, fundraising efforts begin. All installations are supported by donations from the community. The Commission actively promotes public art activity and pursues donations of any amount. Fundraising events are planned as part of the on-going efforts of the Commission.
TIMELINE OF PROJECTS
In 2007 the Waynesville Public Art Commission launched their first Call for Artists with the theme "Old Time Music". The call went out to artists residing in the 25 counties that make up Western North Carolina. From the many entries, three finalists were chosen to present their proposals to an advisory panel made up of local citizens from various backgrounds. Using the panel's input, the Commission chose Stefan Bonitz to create the first piece of public art. Stefan constructed his sculture entirely out of recycled metal. Installed and dedicated in the fall of 2008, the colossal, appealing musicians were an instant success and continue to draw camera-toting visitors to the corner of Miller and Main Streets in the center of town.
Concurrent with the Bonitz installation, the Commission was busy with two projects scheduled for 2009.
The first project was a competition for art students at Tuscola High School — a “paver design” in the plaza of the new police station currently under construction. The students were to develop a design that would be appropriate to the site and reflect the mission of the Public Art Commission. The winning design entitled “Patchwork Community,” submitted by Courtney Boessel, was incorporated into the paver installation in the summer of 2009.
For its second project for 2009, the Commission chose the theme “Celebrating Folkmoot,” in honor of Waynesville’s annual folk dance festival. Again, the call was sent to the 25 Western NC counties, three finalists were selected and another advisory panel of interested residents participated in the selection process for the winning design. The commission was awarded to renowned public artist, Wayne Trapp who invited members of the community to submit ideas for flag designs— providing creative inspiration for him to use in his sculpture. Fourteen Haywood County residents from the ages of 4 to 83 responded.
Mr. Trapp produced a colorful, kinetic piece that is both symbolic of the international theme of the festival and the energy and flowing movement of the Folkmoot dancers. The sculpture was installed in November 2009 at the corner of Main and East Streets in a raised planter at the newly dedicated Police Station and Development Center.
Artist Wayne Trapp's Folkmoot Sculpture includes flags that move with the wind.
In 2010 Richard Coley and Ben Kastner, co-owners of Intracoastal Iron in Wilmington, North Carolina were selected to create an artistic railing in honor of the connection between Waynesville and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For this fourth project, the Call for Artists was open to artists from all of North Carolina and Tennessee, the two states in which the National Park was created.
The railing design contains layered mountains, handcrafted trees, a recognizable church steeple, and in honor of the designation of the Great Smoky Mountains as the "Salamander Capital of the World," three salamanders. In their professional careers Mr. Coley and Mr. Kastner have journeyed from underwater welding to blacksmithing, and this piece allowed them to incorporate their talents of forging, forge welding, and moris and tennon joinery. These methods are tedious, but by using them, the artists created a piece that could have been constructed in the same manner hundreds of years ago.
More than just a renovated picnic space, the site location, known as the mini-park, is located close at the corner of Main and Depot Streets. It is close to the location of an arched sign erected over Main Street in the 1930s, which declared this intersection to be the direction of travel to the "Eastern Entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park." Several versions of this sign were present until the 1970s. Traveling through the intersection at Depot and Main Streets, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed through Waynesville in 1936, en route from Cherokee to Asheville, on a tour promoting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Photo by Ed Kelley @ edkelley.com
Photo by Ed Kelley @ edkelley.com