Local News

Supporters Hope Art Project Sparks Interest In New Downtown

Posted December 18, 2005 2:26 a.m. EST

— Standing in the pouring rain, world-renowned artist Jaume Plensa wants ideas to pour in.

Plensa was in Raleigh last week conducting a site survey for a new piece of art he will create for an area around the city's new convention center.

"I'm trying that my piece could help, not to help the buidling's physical elements, but intentions and emotions in that space -- to try to breathe life in the area," Plensa said.

The Spanish artist is best known for his

Crown Fountain

at Millenium Park in Chicago, which has become a focal point for the city.

Capitol Broadcasting Company

President Jim Goodmon hopes for a focal point -- a new public space -- in downtown Raleigh. He is the backer for the $2.5 million Plensa piece of art.

"You're just going to want to be there," Goodmon said. "You're going to want to be down there because it's going to be festive."

Supporters hope the work will spark international interest and bring energy to downtown.

CBC, WRAL's parent company, is just the latest company making a major commitment to the arts downtown.

"I've always thought that public art was really an essential part of developing downtowns," Goodmon said.

A few weeks ago, RBC Centura and Progress Energy announced they will support a $2 million project to put colorful glass chandeliers on every corner of the new Fayetteville Street.

North Carolina Museum of Art

Director Larry Wheeler says corporations in the downtown area want to set a high mark and realize that without the private investment Raleigh will not get there.

"People and corporations understand the importance of defining the place and the quality of the place," Wheeler said.

It is now up to Plensa to help create a place, a piece of art to match the vision for the new downtown.