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Program Relaunch

Pedestrian Art Unveiling
Friday, April 5th, 5 p.m. • $20
CFCC parking deck, 200 Hanover St.
www.artscouncilofwilmington.com

SCULPTING A CITY: Wilmington artist Paul Hill’s “Straining to Be” will be on display, as will “Wind Stone” by Cary sculptor Phil Hathcock. Images provided by Arts Council of Wilmington.

SCULPTING A CITY: Wilmington artist Paul Hill’s “Straining to Be” will be on display, as will “Wind Stone” by Cary sculptor Phil Hathcock. Images provided by Arts Council of Wilmington.

From 2005 to 2008, local photographer Matthew Dols founded and operated Creative Wilmington, a local nonprofit which oversaw an artist-subscribed website. The site featured a large database of talent, from painters to sculptors, writers to dancers and all others in between, in one tidy place for folks to refer to per commission work as well as a lengthy calendar of events. Likwise, Creative Wilmington hosted popular programs to keep art beating passionately in our city’s heart, thanks to Art for the Masses—which brings affordable art to buyers directly from the artists, in a larger one-day sale format that continues today at UNCW every November. They also instituted Pedestrian Art (PedArt), a program which showcases sculptures in public spaces throughout downtown Wilmington. Even after Dols’ departure PedArt saw success until 2010, when the foundation’s resources ran dry.

Low and behold, the program will see a relaunch on April 5th thanks to the new Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County, along with curatorial support from Cameron Art Museum, and financial support from Residents of Old Wilmington, Wilmington Downtown, Inc. (WDI) and the Downtown Business Alliance. “The program costs $20,000 annually, or $10,000 per installation cycle with half going to the artists,” Rhonda Bellamy, executive director of the arts council, says. “The other expenses include installation services, hardware, signage and marketing.”

The revival of the PedArt format comes at a perfect time to coincide with a new downtown facelift, which continues seeing improvement through construction and expansion annually. “Wilmington Downtown, Inc. convened a meeting of interested parties who wanted to see the popular program continued once the arts council was launched,” Bellamy notes. “Subsequently, I met with the committee and we decided to move forward.”

The exhibition will showcase works from Paul Hill, who is already familiar with Wilmington public art installation. At the foot of Market, at Water Street, folks will recognize his permanent Venus flytrap on display.

“‘Southern Hospitality’ is now enjoyed by so many,” Anne Brennan, executive director of CAM, says of the sculpture which was purchased by the Residents of Old Wilmington.

Hill works in metal, featuring steel, bronze and copper, which has been used in commission works for Screen Gems Movie Studios, MTU/Detroit Diesel and Southern Jet, Inc. One of his works, “Straining to Be,” features a vision our animal-loving community will adore: a bronze dog pulling his leash in excitement.

Cary resident Phil Hathcock works in stone and has permanent collections showcased at Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and in Cary and Pinehurst, NC; Charlottesville, VA; and North Charleston, SC. “Dols never provincially limited PedArt to the exclusive display of work by local artists,” Brennan notes of out-of-towner Hathcock. “We are continuing to follow the philosophy and practice of that first program. Not only does Hathcock work with the predictable elements of texture, scale, dimension and design, he cleverly, sparingly, poetically employs the element of sound.”

His “Wind Stone” display is a massively intimidating yet serene and gorgeous stone bench accentuated by steel rods which shoot in the air to tickle the wind in harmonic symphony.

Between both artists six new works will be installed across downtown Wilmington, from locations at the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce at 1 Estelle Lee Drive to the New Hanover Community Health Center off North Fourth Street. “Several of the sites formerly used were still available, including 305 Chestnut Street and Bijou Park,” Bellamy informs. “Several other sites, most notably the main post office and on the riverfront, are under construction. Working with city officials, we had to find locations that were level, large enough, and which did not impede pedestrian or vehicular traffic.”

The exhibits will change twice annually as to afford tourists and locals a change in view among our ever-developing city. Artists interested in applying will have the opportunity beginning May 1st when the council puts out their call for proposals online. “The first cycle runs from early spring to September,” Bellamy continues. “The second will run from early October through Easter.”

Along with relaunching PedArt, the new arts council has developed their first board and already dispersed $22,000 from their Grassroots Arts Grant to 13 local arts organizations. “The application period for the 2013-2014 grant cycle will run through June 14th, 2013,” Bellamy says. “The Arts Council of Wilmington will administer the Regional Arts Project grant for New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick and Columbus counties.”

The council also started ACES (Arts Council Exhibition Space) Gallery, located in their Front Street office space. They’re currently looking for proposals from artists, groups, curators and more from New Hanover County. “Exhibitions run for approximately one month,” Bellamy explains, “coinciding with Wilmington’s Fourth Friday Gallery Nights schedule.”

Since overseeing the Fourth Friday schedule for 2013, the council have included 16 galleries among the downtown after-hours party, held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every fourth Friday of the month. Along with community programs with which they’re partnering, the art council’s inaugural year is proving to be a flourishing and productive one.

“Pedestrian Art energizes our cityscape,” Bellamy says. “It helps define us as a progressive urban center with a robust arts scene, where residents and visitors get to experience rotating exhibitions of free public art by artists of various media. Through PedArt, we grow a creative culture that increases tourism, enhances property values, and is a source of pride for our community.”

WDI will help kick off the relaunch of PedArt on Friday, April 5th when they unveil the works of Hathcock and Hill. A trolley service will take folks to each sculpture location, departing at 5 p.m. sharp from the CFCC parking deck at 200 Hanover Street. A reception at the Wilma W. Daniels Gallery at CFCC with sculptor Paul Hill will immediately follow until 6:30 p.m.; refreshments and light hors d’oeuvres will be provided. Tickets for the unveiling, trolley tour and reception are $20 and can be purchased at http://wdiartunveil.eventbrite.com. All proceeds benefit the Arts Council of Wilmington/NHC.

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