News Column

'Whimsical Dogwoods' shine spotlight on downtown Fayetteville

May 27, 2014

By Sarah Campbell, The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.



May 27--Brandon Gould's gaze remained focused, his hand steady, as he colored a spot on a once-white statue resting atop a table inside his dining room.

Now bursting with color, the fiberglass dogwood flower is sure to stand out when it's installed later this month.

The sculpture is one of 15 coming to downtown Fayetteville. The public art project, dubbed Whimsical Dogwoods, is designed to promote downtown.

"We want to get people out exploring downtown," said Jami McLaughlin, downtown development manager for the city of Fayetteville.

McLaughlin said that means wandering down side streets, checking out museums and stopping in to see what local shops and restaurants have to offer.

"This is a fun way to unify our community with an icon," she said.

All 15 statues are being designed by local artists.

Onlookers will be able to learn more about the statues and the artists behind the designs by taking a self-guided walking tour. A scavenger hunt involving the sculptures is planned for later this year.

"There's definitely an art education component to this project," McLaughlin said.

The Whimsical Dogwoods, provided by a grant from the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, will be on display through October.

The sculptures will be put up for auction at that time with the money raised going to fund the project again next year.

"We want to make this an annual thing," McLaughlin said.

Standing slightly shorter than 3 feet tall and spanning more than 2 feet wide, the Whimsical Dogwood is the largest art project Gould has ever undertaken. But he's not intimidated.

Gould, 20, started the project the same way he did every one before it, with a small dab of color.

The design grew one dollop of ink at a time as Gould switched from marker to marker.

There's no specific pattern; Gould doesn't need one.

"I have an abstract style of work," he said. "It just comes to me."

Gould's dogwood sculpture will end up looking like a brightly-colored puzzle with a single missing piece -- a symbol that has become synonymous with autism.

"I have autism and Asperger's, so I want to represent," he said. "I want to show that people with autism can do things like this."

Gould, who lives in Hope Mills, has dedicated several hours a day to his art since picking it up about two years ago.

"It's a therapy for me," he said. "If I get stressed out or something, I just go do my art."

Gould upcycles by buying items from thrift stores and adding his colorful touch. He sells his wares at the Shops of Main Street in Spring Lake, where he works part-time.

"I'm trying to make this into a business, so I can live on my own," he said.

Gould said the Whimsical Dogwood project will help bring his "Aspie art" into the spotlight.

"I think it will be cool for so many new people to see my work," he said. "Maybe they'll say 'I want to buy some art from that guy.'"

Methodist University'sPeggy Hinson and Kerry Jenkins teamed up to complete their Whimsical Dogwood.

Jenkins, an associate professor of graphic design, came up with the design. Hinson, a professor who teaches drawing, painting and ceramic sculpture, was in charge of the painting.

The dogwood features the word "downtown" written in Caslon font. The petals are pink and beige, a nod to the actual flower.

"I wanted to find a way to emphasize downtown, and I noticed there happened to be the right number of flowers for the word," Jenkins said.

Jenkins' decision to use Caslon font was very deliberate.

"I went with a typeface that would've been historically appropriate based on the time period when Fayetteville was established," he said.

When the pair got the dogwood statue back to campus, Jenkins used a projector to cast the letters on the flower so he could trace them. Then, Hinson got to work.

She had to use a slow, steady hand to get the lettering just right.

It was smooth sailing after that, with the only hiccup being trying to master the right shade of green for the stem.

Soni Martin, an art professor at Fayetteville State University, primarily worked on her dogwood sculpture outside of her studio in Haymount. It seems appropriate considering the title of the piece is "Along the River."

Martin, who teaches printmaking and sculpture, wanted her piece to relate to water and nature.

"I also wanted it to relate to my work, my prints," shes said. "So, I've been using a lot of stripes with landscapes."

The sculpture is adorned in bright red-orange flowers that pop against light blue stripes, a reference to water.

Martin said she's excited about the Whimsical Dogwood project.

"As an artist and an art educator, it's important for me to see more public art in Fayetteville, so I was glad to see this happen," she said.

Staff writer Sarah Campbell can be reached at campbells@fayobserver.com or 486-3523.

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(c)2014 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

Visit The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.) at www.fayobserver.com

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Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)


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