Asheville’s first public art piece, uprooted two years ago, may wind up close to where it started if Asheville’s Public Art Board has its way.
The Energy Loop sculpture, a wavy chunk of steel unveiled along College Street between City/County Plaza and Pack Square in 1983, should be placed in a grassy area in the new Pack Square Park that’s near the sculpture’s original home, the board decided in its afternoon meeting Tuesday. The decision will go as a recommendation to Asheville City Council, which will make the final call on the sculpture’s eventual home.
“It’s the only viable location we can find at this point,” said board member Bill Fishburne.
The loop was removed from its home for repairs and to make way for construction of the new Pack Square Park. The Pack Square Conservancy is overseeing the park’s construction and has been working with the art board to find a location for artist Dirk Cruser’s abstract piece, which caused a stir when it was introduced 25 years ago.
But there’s been no decision as both sides have gone back and forth about the loop.
The conservancy identified four possible locations, but none have been suitable, art board members said. Proposed sites in front of the entrance to Pack Place and near the planned Veterans Memorial closer to the Buncombe County Courthouse are too small, they argued. A proposed location near an old magnolia tree is on land at the heart of a legal battle between county officials and developer Stewart Coleman. And a site on the so-called “grassy knoll” near the Biltmore Building won’t work because of an underground parking garage there. The sculpture would be too heavy, and there wouldn’t be enough room between the bottom of the sculpture and the top of the underground garage for a drainage system, board members said.
Looking at Pack Square Park maps on Tuesday, the art board picked out a spot marked for a tree near the Energy Loop’s original site and said the sculpture should be planted there instead. The location would be open for plenty of sun and lots of room for children, who in the past have enjoyed climbing and sliding along the loop’s curves, board members said.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor