A new city facility is under construction near Capital Boulevard and the Beltline, but the buildings themselves won’t be what catches drivers’ eyes.
Raleigh’s public arts board has commissioned a 17-foot-tall granite and steel sculpture to stand outside the new Downtown Remote Operations Facility on Westinghouse Boulevard.
The selected artist, Ilan Averbuch of Long Island City, N.Y., will build the piece called “Communicating Vessels” at the new home of Raleigh’s street maintenance, vehicle fleet services and traffic engineering departments.
Averbuch said the piece represents the teamwork of the city’s day-to-day operations. “The departments of the Downtown Remote Operations Facility keep the city moving through their united efforts, not unlike the equilibrium in the law of communicating vessels,” the artist explained in a news release.
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The sculpture has a budget of $157,000, based on the city’s policy of setting aside 5 percent of a construction project’s budget for art. And while the average Raleigh resident might not have business at the new center, they’ll still get to enjoy the piece, public art coordinator Kim Curry-Evans said.
“It’s a pretty busy area in terms of cars,” she said. “You can’t help but see it.”
Averbuch was selected from among 200 artists who applied for the commission. A city committee spent an afternoon sifting through the applications and chose three finalists to come to Raleigh and offer a more detailed proposal.
“Raleigh will be getting a striking and thoughtful sculpture by an internationally known artist,” said Clymer Cease, who chaired the selection panel.
“Communicating Vessels” is one of eight public art projects in the works around the city. It will sit just across the street from the city’s planned Critical Public Safety Facility, which will have a major public art piece of its own.
And a few miles down the Beltline, a public art project at the Wilders Grove Solid Waste Facility off New Bern Avenue will be unveiled next month.
The recycling-themed art installation by Lee Cherry, Matt McConnell and Marc Russo enlisted more than 100 community volunteers earlier this year to put together materials such as plastic grocery bags, old T-shirts and cereal boxes that fill a 200-square-foot wall at the entrance to the center.
McConnell’s work won’t be done after the unveiling, though. City officials announced last week that he and David McConnell will be the consulting artists for a redesign of Market and Exchange plazas, two little-used spaces off Fayetteville Street.
Because the art budget for the plazas will be small – $5,400 – the two artists will work with landscape architects to take an artistic approach where possible to the new design.
“They will be at the table with the project team offering insights,” Curry-Evans said.