Return of the Big Iron

After being dislodged by a reckless driver and undergoing weeks of repairs, a signature piece of public art is back on the sidewalk at the intersection of Battery Park Avenue and Wall Street.

The sculpture of a big, black iron, by artist Reed Todd, was knocked away from its base when a man fleeing police rammed his car into it on Feb. 28. This morning, a crew of city staffers helped Todd reinstall the piece.

Diane Ruggiero, the city’s superintendent of cultural arts, was there to monitor the reinstallation. The iron has a fresh coat of paint, she explained, and a new set of elevated bolts underneath to let water flow under it (where rust had started to set in).

“It’s as good as new,” she said, as Todd welded the iron to its base.

(The sculpture sits next to the building housing Mountain Xpress’ offices. For those who can make it, please join us at the iron at 1 p.m. today — Monday, May 11 — for a celebratory photo.)

Jon Elliston, managing editor


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About Jon Elliston
Former Mountain Xpress managing editor Jon Elliston is the senior editor at WNC magazine.

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17 thoughts on “Return of the Big Iron

  1. Jon Elliston

    Here’s a press release from the city announcing the return of the iron:


    May 11, 2009

    City of Asheville
    Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department – Cultural Arts Division

    Diane Ruggiero – Superintendent of Cultural Arts
    Day: 828-259-5815
    Cell: 828-280-6370


    Asheville, NC – Early Monday morning, local artist Reed Todd and City of Asheville Public Works crews reinstalled the Flat Iron sculpture at Wall Street and Battery Park Avenue. The sculpture was created by Reed Todd as part of the Asheville Urban Trail and originally installed in August, 1996.

    In March 2009, the Flat Iron was hit by and automobile and dislodged from its metal base and moved approximately six feet from its original location. This past summer, the City of Asheville had a conservation assessment done on its public art collection and although there was no serious damage done to the Flat Iron, it was decided that the piece should be restored and painted before being reinstalled.

  2. Mysterylogger

    Yay more waste of Money. We have square boxes in town why not make shoe boxes to commerate all the boxes.

    And before you start I know about the Flat Iron boy but a statue is just redudnant.

  3. Piffy!

    I just KNEW at least one person would decry this public art as being “wasteful”.

    Surprised cullen hasnt visited yet to decry this flatlander, yankee art.

  4. hauntedheadnc

    Not directing this toward anyone in particular…

    If this were the sort of meaningless “Look! Here’s some art!” piece the likes of which are cluttering up malls and office parks across the nation, I could understand a complaint. Lord knows the new Pack Square Park is going to have a few of those, at immense cost.

    However, we’re talking a piece that actually has a point, a historical basis, and means to convey something to someone. It’s an artwork that carries a piece of the past to a whimsically absurd conclusion. This is the kind of art we need much more of around here.

    If anyone wants to get het up, go fuss about the Deco Gecko or that nameless rusty tree by the Federal Building. Rage against pointlessness all you like, in fact. But when it comes to the good stuff, put a sock in it.

  5. Mysterylogger

    The point that the Building is a flat Iron building so we put an Iron Flat Iron in front of it, How original.

    How about since all the buildings in town are shaped like boxes we create and Iron Cube to signify that.

    At least the Homeless will have a place to go to the restroom again in private.

  6. brebro

    How about a statue shaped like a log, only it would have a cover over it to shroud it in mystery. It could retain its phallic appearance but since it is supposed to be mysterious, passersby would just have to wonder why it seems to always be a dick for no good reason.

  7. hauntedheadnc

    “The point that the Building is a flat Iron building so we put an Iron Flat Iron in front of it, How original.

    How about since all the buildings in town are shaped like boxes we create and Iron Cube to signify that.

    At least the Homeless will have a place to go to the restroom again in private.”

    No, the point is that you’re going to whine about it no matter what it is. Good art, bad art, art at all — you’re going to complain.

    I know what you’re thinking — why does the city put money toward art? Well, it’s common practice these days for cities, states, and other governmental bodies to spend money in ways that enhance their economies. Art and tourism are both big business in Asheville, and therefore it goes to reason that the city, in spending money to enhance and stabilize its economic health, would spend money on things that benefit artists and please tourists.

    It’s the same thing, really, as when a municipality spends money to court a refinery or attract a prison. I’m guessing that you wouldn’t have the least problem if Asheville were spending money to attract a refinery or a prison would you?

    Seriously. There’s a world of things to get upset about. Go find something worthwhile to vent your spleen toward.

  8. Mysterylogger

    Well for one this Town goes out of its way to waste every tax dollar it gets on fads and trying to please tourists with its Rust art, which is an Abomination on the city. The city could care less about the locals that live here, the ones that were born here, raised here, they care more about living up to its “Paris of the South” Hype which it fails on a regular basis.

    The city important should be more concerned with attracting good paying jobs, and supporting small businesses that doesnt involve; Trinkets, Coffee, bars or Art. But no, it caters to a few people wanting to keep this town from growing in a positive manner. So it over taxes businesses that can up hold a sizeable work force and good pay and chokes them out of the area. So that we are only left with low paying, no insurance, seasonal jobs.

    So here we are in a recession and the city would rather waste money on “Art” and other worthless efforts that doesn’t really support our local economy or help the fellow man in anyway but make a few feel good.

    If this city cared a tiny little bit about its heritage it would fix the Thomas wolfe house, the state of this structure is shameful. But we can blow all the money we can on Rust Art and more litter for the streets.

    Well we already got a prison that I was against in this first place and their are rumors of another prison going in next to it, which im still against. Im against a refinery but in the same breath the jobs it would create would be a blessing to those around here that have been laid off and the jobs shipped else where.

  9. hauntedheadnc

    Alright, first off, knock it off with the RaNdOm CaPiTaLiZaTiOn.

    Secondly, you do realize that this piece was already in place and had been for years, and that the reason it was removed and now replaced, is because some jackass running from the cops ran into it with his car. Please tell me you were aware of that.

    And please tell me that you’re aware that the city is trying to recoup its costs from that jackass’ insurer.

    I still disagree with your assessment that art has no practical value to the city or its economy, and we could go several rounds about how the city could be doing more to attract high-paying jobs in addition to financing public art and enhancing downtown. However, what are you advocating — are you saying that if city property is damaged, it should not be repaired?

    Finally, you’re fussing about “rust art” when this is anything but. Open your eyes. If you want to blow out your O-ring about that tree thing by the Federal Building (which I do kinda like, ironically enough), go wild. This? Not so much. As I’ve explained and you ignored, we’re talking a piece that actually speaks to city heritage here. It most certainly is not rUsT aRt, anymore than that work honoring Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell.

  10. Mysterylogger

    Yes I know the piece was already there was against it, still against it. Its a waste of money. I’m not a fan of it nor any other so called rust art in town. I know it was hit and the story behind it. If it was placed there I would perfer it removed instead of fixed it serves no meaning other then Asheville’s glorious symoblism over substance campaign thats being going on for awhile now.

    Just not during a recession when money is hard to come by and when that same money can be used somewhere else more effectively. But no Asheville chooses to immediately throw up that useless Flat Iron Sculpture without securing the money to pay for it from the insurer.

    Yeah I know about the history of it and its still a waste of money a flat iron in front of the a building shaped like a flat iron. How thought provoking and speaks to the generations of Asheville, no it was another waste of tax payer money and resources to keep up.

    And no its not rust art its garbage, it has no purpose but to make a few people feel good at the cost of tax dollars and runaway spending.

  11. hauntedheadnc

    Are you incapable of typing the word “art” without the word “rust” preceding it?

    I can see that trying to get you to accept the value of art is not going to work, so I’m not going to bother. I’m just sorry that your world is so small and plain. As for me, I love Asheville for what it is, and not for some colorless utilitarian hardscape that I wish it was.

  12. Mysterylogger

    Yes I can; art, art, art, art, Its just when I talk about the art in Asheville its Rust Art, because its not really art at all but a rusty abomination of tax payer money.

    Never said thats what I want, a ” and not for some colorless utilitarian hardscape” but our city wastes too much money on this nonsense. Especially when everyone is cutting back except the city see’s fit to buy more rust, and sidewalk garbage. So Happy the city can buy all this stuff while people are going hungry, getting laid off, State and city employees being asked to cut back hours, jobs leaving the area, Parts of the city without sidewalks, and cut after cut, after cut but just as long as some people can enjoy their tax money being flushed down the toliet.

    And justI’m just sorry that your world is so small and plain” My opinion just differs from the Progressive . . . . . wait . . . status quo in Asheville, and heaven forbid ANYONE thinks for themselves in this town, being out of lock step is unheard of.

  13. Piffy!

    “The iron has a fresh coat of paint, she explained, and a new set of elevated bolts underneath to let water flow under it (where rust had started to set in). ”

    Wow, yeah, mysterylog, i bet that really ‘wasted’ A LOT of city money.

    Somebody needs to flush…

  14. rustoleum

    Good go at it Mysterylogger and hauntedheadnc. Both valid arguments and sticking to the point. I’d hold this thread up to other posters as an example of civil discourse. I’m proud.

  15. Art or not art, who cares. I have seen a huge number of people take photographs in front of the iron; and it is a great back drop for street performers. To suggest that it should have not been replaced is moronic.

    The rust tree thing beside the federal building was paid for by federal dollars; can’t really stick that one on the City if Asheville.

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