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Plensa Withdraws From Raleigh Art Project

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A world-renowned sculptor commissioned to create public art in downtown Raleigh announced his withdrawal from the project Tuesday afternoon, the same day Capitol Broadcasting Co. President and CEO Jim Goodmon said he is withdrawing his $2.5 million gift.
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  • "It became clear to me, recently, that the needs and desires of the community are not the same as the wishes of the City Council and others in the municipality," Jaume Plensa said in a statement. "And clearly, Mr. Goodmon's withdrawal of his support for the project is also evidence of this. I think under these circumstances, it's not possible for me to be successful with this project and therefore I withdraw my participation."

    Goodmon was asked earlier this year to provide support for the project to create a public space for the citizens of Raleigh as part of the new Fayetteville Street. He became so enamored with the project that he agreed to provide the entire $2.5 million estimated cost.

    Now, Goodmon said, the project is no longer the same one he agreed to support.

    "Many people worked very hard to implement the Jaume Plensa design. But when the city eliminated the square, his vision was destroyed. Unfortunately, the project that I was asked to support no longer exists," he said.

    Plensa's original design would have featured a display of flashing lights and misting water above a new plaza on Fayetteville Street. However, a new list of parameters supported by city leaders would not have a city square but a street running straight through.

    Goodmon informed Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker of his decision to withdraw his pledge Monday morning.

    "Nobody's mad. Nobody's blaming anybody. This just happened. The City Council wants something else and that's fine," Goodmon said.

    Supporters of the art said the city has lost out.

    "I blame the opening of Fayetteville Street for this falling apart. The parade, the public frenzy of being able to march down the street between the Capitol and the performing arts center," said Larry Wheeler. "It was a moment and all of a sudden overnight, they canceled the project without looking beyond that moment, without looking to the future of how Fayetteville Street would perform for the long term."

    Goodmon said Plensa gave his very best in the design, and he wouldn't ask him to change it. He called the move a tough decision because he isn't a quitter.

    "I will never go by that location and not think about what could have been," he said.

    Goodmon said he still supports public art in downtown Raleigh, but he will no longer be the major patron. He said he would help raise money for another project.

    Capitol Broadcasting is WRAL's parent company.


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