New (free) art comes to Waynesville

By Mary Ann Enloe | Jan 20, 2014
Photo by: Andrew Bowen For years shoppers have enjoyed bronze sculptures located in the broad lobbies of the southwest Asheville shopping center.   in the Biltmore Square Mall. Now that the mall is undergoing transformation to an outdoor venue, it's giving the artwork away. Waynesville asked for the fountain and statuary called "Chasing Tadpoles" and the beautiful piece is now safely stored in town until a suitable site is found.

When Biltmore Square Mall called Waynesville Alderman Gary Caldwell offering to donate its sculpture "Chasing Tadpoles" to the town of Waynesville, the town's governing board jumped on the project like a fly on a June bug.

"We'll take that one and any others they want to give us," said Mayor Gavin Brown at Tuesday night's regular meeting.

The southeast Buncombe County mall, known for its spacious corridors and bright public spaces, is converting to an outlet center.

Their impressive sculptures have to go. Mall Manager Sharon Morgan said earlier that she wanted the artwork to have good homes, so she offered them free of charge to area nonprofits.

Waynesville got first dibs on "Chasing Tadpoles" because it has Haywood County roots. It was designed by former Tuscola art teacher Bill Eleazar.

The spectacular work of three forged bronze tadpole-chasers is representational art — neither whimsical nor modernistic. It is children playing in a pond who look like children playing in a pond.

Tuesday a town crew took equipment to the mall and spent the day carefully dismantling the fishing folks and their fountain.

"It was sort of surreal to some of the mall walkers when we came rolling in with a Bobcat," said David Blevins in his report to the mayor and aldermen Tuesday night.

Blevins serves on the town's public arts commission and spent the day on the project with the crew.

"I'm not here tonight to tell you that we have all the pieces put back together yet, but it's in town now and safely stored until a decision is made about a permanent location," he said.

Blevins went on to tell the governing board that Waynesville's crew impressed those who assisted and watched the intricate large-scale surgery.

"Bill Eleazer was with us and said our people completed the job as if they did statue-removal for a living," said Andrew Bowen, a student at Western Carolina University who serves as a town intern.

He documented the dismantling with photographs which are posted on Waynesville's website.

In addition to the Bobcat, he said it took "...ingenuity and a little bit of brute strength" to complete the move.

Another statue is available to Waynesville immediately —"Le Femme."

"We can have it if we want it," said Blevins. "I really believe it was offered to us because of the excellent way our crew handled today's project."

governing board voted unanimously to accept and take other pieces if available. It hasn't been decided where the "Chasing Tadpoles" piece will go.

Town Manager Marcy Onieal presented several potential sites for the board to consider, including Frog Level, Caroline's Point at the foot of Main Street where a fountain was once located, across East Street from the modernistic Folkmoot sculpture on Main Street, and the corner of Church and Haywood Streets two blocks down from Main. Each has its pros and cons.

"There are other sites, of course," she said. The Public Arts Commission will work with the governing board to determine the best location for the new artwork.