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Raleigh's City Plaza gets art

Sculptures by three North Carolina artists were installed Monday at Raleigh's City Plaza, adding art to what city officials hope will become the capital city's "public living room."

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh's "public living room" will get a little interior decoration.

Sculptures by three North Carolina artists were installed Monday at Raleigh's City Plaza, which will open after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 24.

It took most of the afternoon to install the three sculptures, which weigh a combined 4,000 pounds of steel, tires and reinforced concrete.

The sculptures will be the artistic centerpiece to the $15 million plaza of the 500 block of Fayetteville Street. With glass retail pavilions, light towers and water fountains, the plaza is intended to be a gathering place that also hosts public events like concerts. One business, Krispy Kreme, will be ready in time for the opening.

"It's going to be a great additional to downtown Raleigh," said Sam Yehia, a local business owner.

The three sculptures were selected from among more than a dozen entries in a contest organized by the Raleigh Arts Commission, ArtSpace and Visual Art Exchange.

The artists each received a $2,000 honorarium for the already completed works. The sculptures will be displayed through October 2010.

The jury selected "Bow," a 2004 work by William Donnan, of Franklinville; "Opposing Forces," by Hanna Jubran, of Grimesland; and "Toy Defense," a 2004 work by Adam Walls, of Red Springs.

"Bow" is an abstract representation of a person bowing. A massive rock form is held up by a delicate bone.

"I was trying to take a simple human gesture and interpret it as a study in balance and grace," Donnan said. "I am tapping into the intuitive knowledge that everyone has about gravity to give the viewer the feeling that the sculpture is only temporarily at rest and will soon move again."

"Opposing Forces" uses steel painted red, yellow and blue to represent the four elements in which ancient Greeks believed: earth, water, fire and wind.

"It expresses the cycle of life, growth and continuum through the interplay of shape, form, space and colors," Jubran said. "These four elements are seen in a variety of forms, shapes and colors as they occur in nature. They are ever changing."

"Toy Defense" shows a science fiction-esque yellow and red toy vehicle. A human shape is incorporated into the toy, which suggestively holds up its hands and has eyes.

It invites the viewer to "become part of the piece in much the same way that I wanted to play with my action figures as a child," Walls said. "Through toy play, I imagined my toys taking on my emotions, and I imagined my physical self being inside these same toys."


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