RiverSculpture hops from West Asheville to Woodfin

Asheville’s first major public outdoor sculpture exhibition will move out of the city, its organizers recently announced. The third annual RiverSculpture will be held in Woodfin at Reynolds Mountain, north of the city limits, instead of on the river in West Asheville.

Sculpting a new home: A map of the site in Woodfin where the RiverSculpture exhibition will be relocated this fall. Red dots mark the spots planned for the outdoor works of art.

West Asheville’s French Broad River Park had been home to RiverSculpture’s outdoor installations and weekend performances for the past two years. But this year, RiverSculpture’s organizers and city officials couldn’t work out details of the arrangement.

“This should have been a piece of cake [to work out],” says Arlene Winkler, who with her husband, artist Robert Winkler, founded and organized the event. “Bureaucracy and Byzantine internal politicking got in the way.”

A city of Asheville staffer who worked with the Winklers on the event says the couple wasn’t following established procedures for festivals and events held on city property. The two sides couldn’t agree on who would be responsible for the event’s liability insurance, among other issues.

If the city had more involvement in planning and organizing RiverSculpture, the event could’ve been covered under the city’s insurance policy, said Cultural Arts Superintendent Diane Ruggiero. But because RiverSculpture was put together without city input, the city couldn’t take on the risk if sculptures were damaged, for example, or if someone was hurt during their installation.

“It was too great of a risk for the city to be put in,” Ruggiero says.

Still, the city offered significant support for the program, she says, pledging up to $20,000 for the event. “Asheville loves this exhibit,” she notes.

But the Winklers said the type of insurance policy required by the city could’ve cost up to $40,000. Just a few weeks ago, amid the impasse, a friend of the Winklers pitched the exhibit to Woodfin and Reynolds Mountain.

Town officials and Reynolds Mountain developers came courting, the Winklers report. “Woodfin wanted it because it puts them on the map culturally,” Robert says.

The Reynolds Mountain developers have partnered with Woodfin to build a downtown area from scratch, near but separate from the luxury homes being developed on Reynolds Mountain.

RiverSculpture opens Sept. 27, and the Winklers say they’re excited about the new location and the level of support they’re receiving.

Meanwhile, Robert says the couple has been receiving angry e-mails from West Asheville residents accusing them of selling out. But the Winklers don’t mind, he says. The emotional reactions show that RiverSculpture was so successful in its two years at River Park that people came to expect it.

“They’re saying, ‘How can we move it? How dare we move it?’” he says.

For more information and a schedule of related events, visit www.riversculpture.com.



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9 thoughts on “RiverSculpture hops from West Asheville to Woodfin

  1. Jeff

    You’ll definitely need a good map to find culture in Woodfin or Reynolds Mountain.

  2. Woodfinian

    Hooray for Woodfin! I drove through the site last week and it is going to be a spectacular event. You have to see this new “downtown” to believe it. I hope the town brings more of these events to our neck of the woods.

  3. pro woodfin

    Hey Jeff, we have cultured people here. we may not be trendy like west asheville, but that is a benefit. have a good day elitest.

  4. September Girl

    Jeff, your comment seems kind of nutty if not mean, but I guess that is nature of anonymous insults. Woodfin and Reynolds Mountain are part of our greater community and are steeped in the same history and culture as the rest of WNC. It is just wrong to skewer people because of town or neighborhood they call home.

    I’ll be at RiverSculpture this year and it will be my first because the new location is more convenient to me.

  5. jen

    Who would go to Woodfin to see this???
    I travel through by Reynolds Mountain everyday..but I wouldn’t go to the area unless I worked there. Reynolds Mountain is out of they way. It was one of the only reasons I went to the river area. Usually I stay away because it smells so bad and is not very nice to look at. At least it added a little intrigue and class to the park.

  6. September Girl

    The exhibit is not on the mountain, it’s at the base where the new Woodfin town center and YMCA are being built. It is right off of I-26 at the Woodfin exit (I can’t remember the #) It’s not like it is some remote place – it’s practically north Asheville. I don’t understand all the fuss. Why shouldn’t Woodfin have public art – isn’t that a GOOD thing?

  7. zen

    I guess i’ll go there to see it because, well, it’s worth it – but i sure miss it here in West Asheville.

    Someone has stenciled “Art Removed For Your Protection” on most of the cement pads provided at the old location.

    [img src=”http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3155/2777777143_0d91102595_m.jpg”]

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