Culture of collaboration: artists selected for Buncombe Creative Equity Mural project

Press release from Buncombe County Government:

Three blank Buncombe walls will soon be filled with public art. At the March 21 regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners, the Buncombe County Creative Equity Mural project announced three artists selected for the pilot public art program. Murals by Gabriel Eng-Goetz, Leslie Reynalte-Llanco, and Jared Wheatley will bring themes of racial equity, reconciliation, and restoration to three blank Buncombe spaces.

The public art project was initially brought forward by Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger to fill a wall on the west side of the Register of Deeds building. Buncombe County took up the proposal and identified two additional spaces and issued a call for submissions in October of 2022.

A total of 21 submissions were whittled down to five finalists and three awards. Project submissions were selected based on criteria that included:

• Reflection of the people and sense of place in Buncombe
• Reflection of racial equity, reconciliation, and restoration
• Positive contribution to community appearance, aesthetics, enhancements and/or character
• Vendor experience and capacity to implement project
• Project implementation
• Mural locations

For the Register of Deeds Building at 205 College St., Eng-Goetz will engage an advisory board and gather community input to inform the design and mentor an artist apprentice. “I am extremely excited to engage with the good folks of Buncombe County to learn what equity means to them,” says Eng-Goetz. “My goal is to create a piece of art that resonates with locals and represents the community.”

For the Hilliard St. wall behind the Buncombe tax office at 94 Coxe Ave., Reynalte-Llanco drafted a Latino/Latin pride design and will work with local artists Gus Cutty and Kathryn Crawford as advisors. ArtsAVL will partner as a fiscal agent. “My goal for this mural is to catch the viewer’s eyes with its bright colors and bold text in Spanish and hope that they feel like they can relate to what is depicted,” says Reynalte-Llanco. “I also hope that the other members of our community can appreciate the beauty of our culture and know that we are all working together to make this town which we call home a more inclusive place for all.”

For Buncombe’s College Street parking deck, Wheatley will engage the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on syllabary and design input and envisions a communal basket concept. The mural will become part of the Indigenous Walls Project. “We feel the location and current ownership of the site are symbolic of the recognition that is deserved and sets a high bar for the community and visitors of Buncombe County with regards to Indigenous inclusion and equity,” says Wheatley.

Follow the mural project at See the full presentation here.

Attached photos are courtesy of the artists.

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