The Final Phase of The Arts Alfresco Complete

The Arts Alfresco

After almost 7 years since the inception of an art project for the Black Creek Greenway, the third and final phase has finally been permanently installed on the wing walls beside the pedestrian underpass on the Greenway near Lowe’s Hardware Store at Maynard Road and Chapel Hill Road.

The Black Creek Greenway project is a result of a close-knit partnership between the Town of Cary and Cary Visual Art.  It consists of three sculpture locations by Greensboro artist Brad Spencer. “The Arts Alfresco”, Italian for in the fresh air, is the name for the trio of art placements.

“The brick artwork illustrates how creative thought and action can be inspired by the open air environment,” says artist Brad Spencer.

Phase one of The Arts Alfresco is a gathering of three brick people engaging in the act of creating music and literature, which was installed and dedicated to the Town of Cary in July 2010. 

The second phase is located on the pedestrian bridge on Maynard Road that crosses over the train tracks and automobile bridge, near the first installation, flanking the bridge entrances. There are also two figures depicted creating artwork; a potter and a welder are shown doing their handiwork.

The third and final phase, which has just been completed, is a unique collaboration between the artist, Brad Spencer, and the Cary community. The Town of Cary held open workshops at the Cary Arts Center to create tiled ceramic mosaics to be incorporated in the brickwork. The themes of the workshops were “what you see around town.” Spencer has woven the resulting community projects into his artwork, depicting people viewing and interacting with the artwork framed onto the wing walls.

So get out, take a walk on the Black Creek Greenway, and enjoy “The Arts Alfresco!”


A note from artist Brad Spencer about The Arts Alfresco:

The Arts Alfresco has been a unique project for us in that we worked with a common theme with multiple installations. That continuity as opposed to placing various unrelated sculpture installations, creates a more integrated design with the greenway itself. I think it will be a model for other greenway designs in various places. While phase three completes this collaboration between us, CVA and TOC we are already looking at other possible sites to continue the theme.  It is always bitter sweet when a project ends but I don't think Cary has seen the last of us!

There is always a risk in working with multiple design and funding organizations on a sculpture project. The adage "too many cooks in the kitchen" comes to mind. Yet working in conjunction with CVA and TOC has been a pleasurable and professional experience. I think it helps that both organizations have a real understanding that well designed and well placed art can add tremendous value to a communities livability. The fact that the town of Cary has a public art coordinator verifies their commitment. We also worked well with community development and engineering departments that are vital to bringing these projects to fruition. For various reasons the project has far exceeded its original time frame and both CVA and TOC have been patient and understanding that getting it right is more important than getting it quickly. 

The wing walls at the north end of the tunnel also represent one of the appealing aspects of public art. In the design we included works by students of mosaic and tile classes at the Cary Arts Center. We have done similar collaborations before and find them both rewarding and empowering for the local art community and organizations. 

We hope that these installations will become landmarks for greenway users. Outdoor sculpture changes in appearance due to time of day and year. We believe frequent greenway users will enjoy experiencing such nuances as they experience these sculptures over time. We spent so much time on this installation that we were able to meet and hear comments from quite a few greenway users. Their almost universal expressions of gratitude and appreciation for the public art installations along the greenway have been heartwarming for us. As public artists we have a responsibility to enhance the pedestrian and general public experience. Validation from the public, whose lives are in some ways impacted by our work, is the best barometer of our success in achieving that goal.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013
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