Poult and piglet set to return to Urban Trail

The Urban Trail, a tour through downtown Asheville punctuated by dozens of bronze sculptures and an accompanying plaque detailing local history, remains incomplete 18 years after its inception. But there may be an end in sight.

Construction crews are set to return four bronze statues on Pack Square in the heart of downtown in a few weeks, according to Diane Ruggiero, Asheville’s superintendent of cultural arts. A mother pig and piglet, one of the trail’s most beloved sculptures, and a mother turkey and poult, will return to their spot at Urban Trail stop No. 2, which is named “Crossroads.”

In the summer of 2007, thieves stole the piglet and ripped the big porker from its moorings, but failed to haul it off. Several Urban Trail sculptures have been targets of thieves and vandals in recent years. Heads were cut off three figures at the trail marker in front of Malaprop’s bookstore, and a bronze basket of apples was ripped from Urban Trail stop No. 15.

“We’ll use a little more reinforcement” for the piglet this time around, Ruggiero says.

This fall, the sculpture of a girl drinking from a fountain is scheduled to be returned to her spot in the new Pack Square Park. The sculpture has been cleaned, restored and retooled, says Ruggiero — it won’t function as a working water fountain, and the attached lamp post, which originally featured a gas lantern, will be replace with an electric light fixture.

“She’ll be in by early fall,” Ruggiero says of Urban Trail stop No. 23, called “Past and Promise.”

One other Urban Trail stop remains unfinished. Station No. 1, set to be installed outside of Pack Place. Artists submitted proposals in 2007, but renovation work at Pack Square Park delayed the station’s completion. Ruggiero says a new subcommittee of Asheville’s Public Art Board has been assembled to finalize a design and install the first station. The committee plans to ask artists to incorporate bricks into the design that have been emblazoned with the names of trail donors.

The bricks were taken up before park construction started and haven’t been replaced.

The Urban Trail began in 1991, when a group of volunteers decided to create a self-guided walking loop through downtown that would tell the story of the city’s past. Various stations along the walk capture the essence of five distinct historical periods. Brochures are widely distributed, and guided tours starting at the Asheville Art Museum are available.

— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor

Photo above: The pig and turkey statues in Pack Square were replaced a few years ago by two-dimensional cut-outs pending completion of Pack Square Park construction.

photo by Jonathan Welch


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18 thoughts on “Poult and piglet set to return to Urban Trail

  1. AvlResident

    ” . . .The Urban Trail began in 1991, when a group of volunteers decided to create a self-guided walking loop through downtown that would tell the story of the city’s past. . .”

    The Urban Trail is one of Asheville’s nicest features. Can the reporter – or a reader – give the names of those far-sighted volunteers to whom we are all indebted?

  2. Betty Cloer Wallace

    We need even more of this kind of public art to help us hold onto our mountain traditions and heritage. How could anyone look at the bronze musicians and dancers at the Civic Center without smiling and wanting to break out into a little clogging or picking? And each of the other bronzes–of people and animals alike–evoke similar good feelings. More bronzes of native flora would add to the mix and present further opportunity for expression of the rampant creativity Asheville has to offer, and even the skeptics might find their feelings enriched.

    Asheville is truly a wonderful place on many levels, and this artwork helps make it so. These bronzes add to the feeling of permanence–that Asheville has always been special and always will be. Of course, there are more pressing economic needs and problems everywhere, but there can also be an infusion of beauty if we so choose. There is a lot more to living well than profit motive.

  3. hauntedheadnc

    Man… I was so hoping they’d have these statues back in place before now. I’ve got company coming next week and the Urban Trail is the best way to show off downtown.

    And… knowing the Conservancy’s track record, I hope that we’re not going to see “a few weeks” turn into “maybe eight months from now, possibly longer.”

  4. LOKEL

    For those of you who are screaming about debt and tax dollars, give your veins a rest!

    The monies for the statues, stations etc. are a direct result of the success of Downtown After Five and other “Fun-raising” events held in the downtown business district by the membership and volunteers of The Asheville Downtown Association …. I believe that there was an agreement (approved by Council)at the time that the City would provide routine care for the stations (such as debris removal, and general upkeep – as with all City owned public spaces).

    So relax and stop yelling about YOUR tax dollars: maybe head downtown and get a map and follow the Urban Trail, it’s FREE and you’ll feel better afterwards – hell, you might even learn something about Asheville while your at it.

  5. I hope that the re-installed livestock will be turned around and headed in the right direction. The turkeys and pigs are meant to commemorate Asheville’s place on the Drover’s Road, on which livestock from Tennessee and the Ohio Valley traveled through the mountains down to southern cities and Atlantic ports.

    As originally installed, the four critters were headed back north, which made me think they were escapees. (Perhaps that was intended as a nod to Asheville’s vegetarian/vegans and animal rights defenders?)

  6. Asheville Dweller

    Been to the Urban Trail, and its a joke, And yes it is a waste of Tax money. How does Downtown After 5 make money when its free? OH wait thats a waste of tax money as well. This town needs to get its priorities right especially in the economic situation we are in. But no its waste, waste, waste.

    Im from Asheville born and bred, I know more of this town and its REAL history then this faux Bohemion garbage that is shoved down the locals throats daily can believe. I know the history, I know the lore, I know Asheville I dont need to follow a bunch of Rust Art sculptures to know about it.

  7. Piffy!

    Gee, “Asheville Dweller”, you sure sound like Cullen/Williard. And why a “local” would find art that celebrates “local heritage’ is beyond me. John Waters didnt design any of these statues. It’s okay to like.

  8. Asheville Dweller

    The true locals that live here have plenty to complain about with the way this town is ran. That’s what Locals want is some lousy trail uptown with rusty, poorly designed sculptures cluttering up walk ways and side walks.

    If I want a “trail” It will be in the mountains, because I know about Asheville and its true heritage, not Drumcircles, and rust art.

    But anything to push this Bohemion trend that is slowly dying, thankfully.

  9. Good for you

    I think the ‘asheville dweller’ crawled out of his cellar.
    Alot of people who are not from Asheville love using the Urban Trail as a way to learn about the city and enjoy its history. These people spend money downtown, eat in the restaurants and help the local economy, more than what the ‘dweller’ contributes. Please read the Asheville Downtown Association’s Website if you need further clarification.

  10. hauntedheadnc

    Ah yes… the “rust art” guy. I remember you and your pathological inability to say or write the word “art” without the word “rust” preceding it. I was hoping you’d gotten some help for that problem.

  11. Asheville Dweller

    I can say art, just in the context of Asheville “Art” scene Rust must come behind or in front because thats all it is, Or garbage.

    Bronze or not its garbage, if you have to follow a trendy trail to learn about Asheville then its sad. There is more to Asheville then down town.

    And thanks MX for omitting a previous reply, made too much sense didn’t it?

  12. Betty Cloer Wallace

    The Urban Trail is informational for tourists, but it serves a purpose for local people, too. People here in the mountains grow up with a strong sense of place, a strong work ethic, and an appreciation for beauty appealing to all our senses. The bronzes are an example of the beauty and creativity traditionally infused into seemingly mundane aspects of our lives.

    The bronze statuary reminds us of who we are, the place in which we live, and the work we do—along with our colorful quilts, ricks of firewood stacked just so, gardens laid off in orderly rows and hills and beds, clothes pinned to clotheslines as if waiting for a photographer or painter, traditional music that invites infinite creative variations, a far-reaching literary heritage, and soft language that almost seems like singing.

    We would do well to continue adding public artworks throughout downtown Asheville and the region, for the tourists and for ourselves.

  13. Piffy!

    It would appear our resident misanthrope/troll cullen/williard (aka “Asheville Dweller”) would rather ignore the actual facts here in favor of incorrectly characterizing the Urban Trail as some kind of “outsider art” (or, better yet, local but not “true local”– whatever that means).

    And although anti-tourist sentiment may be understandable, it is obviously very misguided in this case.

    Perhaps you should direct your anger at the locals who sell their land to these outsiders, “Dweller” instead of a a cultural art exhibit largely created by people born and raised here.

  14. Mysterylogger

    Telling others not to do what they want with their land is the last thing we need in this town.

    And yes I agree, the Urban Trail is a Giant Joke and waste of the taxpayer dime, Especially in a recession. Most of down town Asheville is a Giant Joke.

  15. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Here’s a centuries-old Scottish/Irish truism to which many local people subscribe: “We hold long memories, which is our greatest strength, and we hold great grudges, which is our greatest weakness.”

    Being on the losing side so many times in our rebellious history has, however, resulted in a need for creativity and invention. Perhaps it is to that heritage that can we attribute the wellspring of creative artistry and expression that characterizes Asheville today?

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