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Plensa Moves Past Raleigh, Lights Up Duke Campus

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DURHAM, N.C. — A month after Raleigh officials turned down Juame Plensa, the world-renowned artist turned up at Duke University.

Plensa's tattoo sculpture, which glows in different colors, is on loan to Duke. The sculpture will be on display in the new West Campus Plaza until next May, and Plensa was on the campus Sunday to celebrate it.

"It's good news for all the world, not just for Duke," Plensa said.

The Spanish artist designed a light canopy to hang above Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. But after a lengthy debate, the City Council rejected the proposal, saying it blocked the view down the street between the Capitol and the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

The council also disliked the idea of having a plaza at the south end of Fayetteville Street, which was reopened this summer after three decades as a pedestrian mall.

"It's always complex, the relationship with politicians, because they like art but they don't trust much in the artist," Plensa said. "I think art, especially in places like Raleigh and other cities like Raleigh, they have no tradition in art, contemporary art, so it's probably a little more difficult."

Bureaucracy also stopped Plensa in Chicago. But after years of fighting, his design for the Crown Fountain in the city's Millennium Park finally was completed.

Plensa said the vision for the Fayetteville Street project remains in his head and he isn't disappointed by the experience.

"Raleigh, for me, is a project which exists," he said.


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