Cleaster Cotton wins $10,000 prize for 55 South Market installation

Press release from Beverly-Hanks & Associates Realtors:

55 South Market developers welcomed several accomplished local artists to propose their ideas for a commissioned art installation on the new condo building’s Beaumont street wall. With great excitement, nationally recognized and locally loved Cleaster Cotton was awarded the $10,000 prize. She will partner with the UNC Asheville STEAM Studio to complete the project by late June or early July 2019. A public event to unveil the artwork is anticipated. “We think that there is significant community interest in this privately owned art being installed for public enjoyment,” said Chris Pearce, one of the developers for 55 South Market.

Developers agreed that Cotton’s deep roots in the community combined with her relevant design concept made her the ideal candidate for the project. “I am delighted and honored to be the artist chosen to display my design, ‘Going to Market,’ as a public art installation on the wall at the 55 South Market Street Condominiums, said Cotton. This downtown Asheville area has a rich African American history and significance that will be memorialized by this art. It is where my ancestors once owned thriving businesses and enjoyed vibrant social lives. ‘Going to Market’ brings to mind the energy of that time. Figuratively, it brings my people back into the space and wholeheartedly pays tribute to them.”

“The seven Cubist figures in the design are in close proximity to each other in joyous celebration of community in the Eagle and Market Street area. The design will be fabricated in corten steel which will patina over the years and will depict the colors of melanin people. [It] will serve as a reminder of the history and value of the land upon which the 55 South Market Street Condominiums is built,” said Cotton.

As part of an agreement with the city, developers were asked to break up the Beaumont Street portion of the wall with art or something that was aesthetically pleasing. “After some internal dialogue about commissioning a piece of art, our development team decided that we would have a contest. We invited all local artists to submit their ideas for art that would ‘respect the heritage of the neighborhood but be uplifting and forward-looking’ with the prevailing artist to be awarded $10,000,” said Pearce.

Nineteen local artists submitted proposals for the wall art project. Of those 19, five were invited to a special event to formally present their concepts. The event took place at THE BLOCK off biltmore on March 25, 2019 and was well-attended by community members, including city officials, condo owners, members of the art community, merchants, and neighborhood residents. “The five submissions were very different and simply outstanding,” said Pearce. “However, Cleaster’s [vision] resonated in so many ways with our team that she was selected. The simple elegance and beauty of her art combined with [her] heritage in the community is just a portion of the reasons she was awarded this opportunity.”

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