Tiles go in at Pack Square Park

A Weaverville artist has begun installing hundreds of stoneware tiles in Pack Square Park, including 400 square, brown-and-blue ones created and signed by students in the Buncombe County Schools.

One tile at a time: Ceramic artist Kathy Triplett is installing hundreds of handmade tiles on the stage being built in the new Pack Square Park. Photo by Jason Sandford

The kids' contributions will complement the work of Kathy Triplett. The raised, curved, pitted surfaces of her big, intricate tiles invite touch, and their muted colors take inspiration from the tan-and-pink coloring of the adjacent Asheville City Hall. The work is being installed on the facing of the new Bascom Lamar Lunsford Stage. Cobalt-blue bricks will also be installed in the dance platform in front of the stage.

Triplett's installation, which began June 29, is the latest artistic touch gracing downtown Asheville's new $20 million Pack Square Park. Other major artworks to come include a stainless steel pergola over the stage where the tiles will be displayed, and a giant brass ring that will encircle granite boulders already in place on Pack Square. Asheville sculptor Hoss Haley is fabricating both those pieces.

With the help of masons Ted Harper and James Owen, Triplett is continuing the meticulous process of installing the tiles, which she expects will take about three weeks.

“The inspiration for the tiles comes from the arch pattern at the top of City Hall,” she explains, pointing to the building's feathered architectural accent. “I took the feather pattern and made it more organic” after being inspired by a poplar leaf.

The school project included having eighth-graders research native plants, followed by a workshop in which Triplett showed them how to make the tiles. Each one displays the plant's botanical name as well as the students' names. (A few Buncombe County commissioners and members of the Pack Square Conservancy, which is overseeing park construction, also fabricated tiles.)

“It's an honor to have a piece in a public space,” says Triplett, who executes both private and public commissions and sells pieces at Blue Spiral 1 gallery in Asheville.

In other park news:

• The installation of a giant brass ring that will complete the Pack Square fountain is tentatively scheduled for the week of July 10.

• The conservancy still needs to raise about $3.7 million to complete the ambitious project. To that end, the group is working on a number of events to thank donors and court new contributors.

• Crews are installing bronze benches atop recycled granite bases in front of the Asheville Art Museum.

• Grading continues to prepare for installing sod, which should arrive in the next few weeks.

• The conservancy recently lobbied state lawmakers in Raleigh in hopes of landing federal economic-stimulus funding.

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