By David Rogers. June 3, 2019. BLOWING ROCK, NC — As promotional strategies go for a significant art event in early August, it doesn’t get much bigger — or appropriate — than “Share My Whirled.”
COVER IMAGE: Artist Mike Roig places the core piece of the sculpture on the pedestal. All photographic images by David Rogers except where noted.
At 13-feet high and 900 pounds, internationally acclaimed sculptor Mike Roig’s (http://www.mikeroig.com) “Share my Whirled” public art sculpture was installed alongside Main Street on Monday, just off the sidewalk in front of Chetola Mountain Resort in Blowing Rock. The installation will run for a period of one year, event organizers Norma Suddreth and Brenda Councill explained to Blowing Rock News at the scene on Monday, and serves to bring attention to the town’s first “Sculpture Walk on Lake Chetola.”
Public art enhances a visitor’s first impression. It can transform communities.
“Mike Roig is a distinguished sculptor and artist,” Suddreth noted to Blowing Rock News with the work of the installation going on in the background. “He actually had the first public art piece to be placed along the U.S. 321 corridor in Lenoir several years ago, so we are very familiar with his work, especially in the area of public art.
“Public art initiatives like the one in Lenoir and what we are starting to see here in Blowing Rock,” added Suddreth, “enhance the first impression of visitors to an area, town or city. They can transform communities.”
Local resident and artist Brenda Councill is a prime catalyst in organizing the first Sculpture Walk on Lake Chetola, wish is slated for August 9th through the 11th.
“This first installation is the kickoff to the Sculpture Walk,” said Councill in highlighting the importance of the Share My Whirled installation. “Mike Roig is an internationally known artist. He has installations all over the country. We are very fortunate to have him be a big part of the Sculpture Walk. This piece will be here for a year and we will replace them each year about this time because the Sculpture Walk on Lake Chetola is planned as an annual event for the town.
They are coming from Texas, California, Ohio, Puerto Rico…from all over the Southeast and the nation.
“This is just one of up to 40 sculptures that will be coming to Blowing Rock as part of the Sculpture Walk,” continued Councill. “We have generous sponsors within the community as well as in the state that have given money.”
Asked about the inspiration for the Sculpture Walk, Councill was quick to smile, “So many towns and cities are doing public art programs today. I initially worked with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and we designated six locations along Valley Blvd. That is actually part of a long-range program. Now that the Town of Blowing Rock has a public art policy, we can proceed with proposals to place public art all around town.
“Part of the Sculpture Walk project is to jury or judge the various pieces,” Councill shared, “to see if they qualify for placement on Valley Blvd. So, hopefully, some of the pieces on Lake Chetola for the August event will find their way onto Valley Blvd. sites. We have regional and national sculptures coming to Blowing Rock for the Sculpture Walk. They are coming from Texas, California, Ohio, Puerto Rico…really from all over the southeast and the nation. We have some tremendous pieces coming.”
A good part of the funding for the Sculpture Walk on Lake Chetola project has come from Watauga Arts Council in cooperation with the North Carolina Arts Council grassroots program.
Art enriches our lives. It makes us human. It explains the separation of humans from other animals.
“Our motto at Watauga Arts Council,” observed Pat Lanno, president of the organization, “is to make art a presence in the community. I can’t think of a better way than to place this big and beautiful sculpture right here on the main drag going into downtown Blowing Rock. It makes it obvious to passersby that art is important to Blowing Rock and in Watauga County.
“Art enriches our lives,” continued Lanno. “It makes us human. I had a teacher once who said that the separation of humans from other animals was when people first started to draw (pictures) on the cave walls.”
Councill added, “Public art becomes an asset of every town that permits their exhibition. When public art is displayed, it evokes all kinds of comments and interactions within the community. It becomes an integrated part of the landscape. We don’t intend to put up pieces that are controversial or in poor taste, but public art can add great interest to the town. When it is integrated properly, it really adds a touch of sophistication.”
In putting together the Sculpture Walk concept, Councill approached one of Chetola’s principal owners, Greg Tarbutton, about bringing more culture to Blowing Rock.
“This is a terrific idea,” Tarbutton told Blowing Rock News in describing the Sculpture Walk. “Brenda Councill has been a friend of ours for quite some time and we have quite a bit of art on the grounds of Chetola already. Especially when she described plans to provide an opportunity for young people to have an interactive experience here at Chetola, we became all ears. As you know, education budgets have tightened and a lot of the first budget cuts always seem to come in arts and music. We felt it was important that young folks have an opportunity to experience art, not just watch it on an iPad.
“So these pieces will be installed all around the lake and on the peninsula,” Tarbutton shared. “We had to keep in mind that we do a lot of weddings here and those are a bride’s special day, so we have to be careful not to impede or intrude on those.
“But art means different things to different people,” Tarbutton concluded. “I am a fan of Salvador Dali. I like avant-garde art. I also understand the difference between Michelangelo’s statue of David and a centerfold in Hustler magazine. One is celebrating (the human form) while the other is exploiting it. When Brenda brought us this idea, I said that I might not be able to understand it all, but there would be things for me and others to look at, hopefully appreciate, and even inspire some creative people to try their hand at art.”
Among the early observers celebrating the Roig installation on Monday was Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers, who joined Suddreth, Lanno, Councill and Roig in a brief ceremony.