Percent for Art program pays off for Chapel Hill

From Staff ReportsJuly 17, 2008 

— A stone wall embedded with tools and a winding marble bench created for Chapel Hill's Town Operations Center were among 45 projects recognized as outstanding public art during a national conference last month in Philadelphia.

"Chapel Hill is thrilled to receive national attention for these projects," town public arts administrator Jeffrey York said in a news release. "We encourage everyone to visit the Town Operation Center, take a leisurely walk along the new sustainability trail, and enjoy these fine artworks."

Artist Jody Pinto and Ted Landsmark, president of Boston Architectural College, made the selections from more than 180 entries from across the United States. The selected projects were presented at the National Americans for the Arts Conference in June.

The Chapel Hill projects were created by Washington-based artist Larry Kirkland as part of Chapel Hill's Percent for Art Program.

"In Our Own Hands" is the title of the artwork sited on a plaza behind the Public Works Administration Building at 6850 Millhouse Road. The artist cast tools in bronze and mounted them onto a curving stone wall fashioned by local stonemason Judson Daniel.

The second artwork is a sculpted, marble bench near the Transit Administration Building at 6900 Millhouse Road. Titled "Around Town," the bench's undulating shape is meant to mimic the area's rolling hills. The bench is engraved along its length with familiar images: a church steeple, bicycle, university architecture, birds, tree leaves, and other icons that one might see during a bus ride.

Chapel Hill's Percent for Art ordinance allocates 1 percent of selected capital projects for the creation and maintenance of permanent works of public art. Funding comes from each project's construction budget, which can include federal, state, county, town and private support.

Other cities in North Carolina that have percent-for-art programs are Asheville and Charlotte.

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