CARY — Several companies told the town of Cary that “The Meeting Place” couldn’t be moved.
The 11-foot tower of clay was too fragile, they said, to be hauled off the town’s main drag.
But move it will.
A crew of three men circled the obelisk of ceramic Tuesday afternoon, preparing it for a quarter-mile journey to a site where perhaps it won’t inspire so many philosophical conversations, and complaints, about the nature of public art.
The contract crew already had wrapped clear plastic sheeting around the “fire sculpture,” which stands at the intersection of South Academy Street and Dry Avenue. One worker welded together black I-beams that had been inserted under the art’s cement base, forming an undercarriage.
The sculpture is destined for the intersection of Pleasants Avenue and Kildaire Farm Road.
This was a project that scared other movers away. They worried that artist Nina Hole’s $40,000 piece would crumble; it was fired at its current location in December, and has not moved since.
The contractors also knew that any failure would have a crowd, as the polarizing ceramic has drawn scores of letters and emails to Town Hall. Some people say the sculpture is ugly – an expensive eyesore.
None of this, apparently, worried Bryant Marriner.
As approved by the Cary Town Council, Marriner’s company, Bryant Industrial Crane & Rigging, will receive $25,500 for the move. To cover the bill, the town will use $12,750 of grant funding it already had received from the United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County.
Marriner is a confident man with a Southern accent. He lists his cellphone number on the Morrisville company website – but when he answered it, he had little to say about how his company will pull off the tricky move, scheduled for completion in mid-August.
“I do lots of different unique jobs, and I get them all because I keep my mouth shut,” Marriner said.
At the site, workers were unfazed by the twisting narrative and local argument about the piece known as the “fire sculpture.”
“They say it can’t be done. It can always be done,” said David Overby, who has worked 22 years for Marriner. “We always get the crazy jobs.”
Cary town staff say the move will go off without a hitch. Should the piece break, Marriner will waive his fee, according to the local government.
It’s unclear whether the town would owe any money to the artist should the piece be destroyed. Hole could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the future home of the sculpture is staked out with pink flags. If the move is successful, the piece will land where an old water tower once stood.
Tim Rhodes, a Pleasants Avenue resident, said he didn’t mind the new neighbor, just like he didn’t mind the water tower.
“It was just an easy way to tell people how to get here,” he said.
Now his neighborhood is set to have a new landmark.
Kenney: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @KenneyOnCary