Grace Cathey’s metal flowers to join the ranks of Waynesville public art pieces

art publicartA new public art sculpture will be unveiled in downtown Waynesville this week by renowned Western North Carolina metal sculptor Grace Cathey.


Entitled “Wildflowers of the Smokies,” the three, large metal panels  — six-feet-high by four-feet-wide — each represent a beautiful native wild flower found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The piece is the fifth annual installment of public art commissioned by the Waynesville Public Art Commission and funded entirely through private donations.

A dedication for the piece will be at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, at the mini-park at the corner of Main and Depot streets.

“There’s an incredible diversity in Grace’s work,” said Jan Griffin, chairman of the Waynesville Public Art Commission. “Her pieces showcase a great mind of talent, one that focuses on bringing out the essence of nature in this region.”

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Each year, the Waynesville Public Art Commission invites artists to submit proposals, including miniature mock-ups of their piece, based on a specific theme. A selection committee then vets the designs and selects the winning artist.

Cathey was this year’s winner. The cost of the piece was $12,500, which was raised through private donations, as has been the case for the previous four art pieces sanctioned by the Waynesville Public Art Commission.

“I believe in a body of work that is whimsical, abstract and interpretive,” Cathey said. “Art adds so much to the quality of life here in Waynesville, and everyone in this community, residents and leaders, supports the artists.”

Cathey’s contribution being the final, crowning piece of public art installed at the mini-park on Main Street that pay homage to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Following the park’s 75th anniversary three years ago, the Smokies was chosen as the theme for a trio of art pieces for the pocket park, which underwent a transformation to make it a more inviting space.

The first piece was a metal railing with designs depicting the mountains and salamanders. The second was the ”Gateway to the Smokies” arch over the entrance to the park, which is a replica of one that historically spanned Main Street itself.

The event is free and open to the public.

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