Midtown: Community

Artsplosure brings Impressionist sculptures to downtown Raleigh

A garden will bloom in City Plaza on Fayetteville Street for three days this weekend, 10-foot trees between the skyscrapers on a carpet of green grass.

But visitors to the garden will not be alone.

Amid the flower plots and neat rows of shrubbery, a series of statues you just might recognize will dance and flirt and lounge in Victorian splendor – all modeled to look exactly like figures from famous Impressionist paintings.

“The ability to bring green among the gray is what’s entertaining to people,” said Tracie Hicks, manager of Hicks Landscape Contractors. “And then there are so many colors and textures to the statues, you forget where you are, almost.”

It’s Artsplosure weekend, the 32nd anniversary of the weekend-long art festival that lines downtown Raleigh’s Moore Square and City Plaza with the colorful wares of painters and metalsmiths, musicians and sculptors and many, many more. Hicks Landscape is one of four local landscape firms brought in to create the perfect setting for California-based sculptor Seward Johnson’s vivid, life-sized statues from his acclaimed series, “Beyond the Frame.”

Surveys from last year’s event put the estimated direct economic impact of the event at about $1.4 million, said Michael Lowder, executive director of Artsplosure.

Along with the Impressionist Garden, here are a few other things to watch for Saturday and Sunday:

At the Community Weaving Project in Moore Square on Saturday and Sunday, festival-goers will weave around the trees to create a temporary sculpture.

The Artsplosure Student Art Exhibition will liven up the Zanzibar Room at Marbles Kids Museum Saturday and Sunday. Middle and high school students will compete for cash prizes in the juried show.

The Art Market will be open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Grammy-winning Latin band Grupo Fantasma will play from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, right after Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes, formed by Justin Robinson, Grammy-winner and former member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops.