Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:
Question: In Bill Moore Park in Fletcher, there’s a piece of artwork that’s kind of modern looking. It’s on your way toward the dog park. One piece is made of blue steel with several points reaching toward the sky. Nearby is a sculpture apparently made from old steel I-beams. I hadn’t thought much of it until someone told me it’s supposed to represent the crown of thorns Jesus wore, and the beams are supposed to be the cross. If you look at it from certain angles, this does make some sense. Is that what this artwork is about? Who was the artist? And if it is religious, isn’t that not really allowed in a public park?
My answer: Having walked by these sculptures hundreds of times, my only thought has been, “I really need to get into the abstract art game.”
Real answer: As a Fletcher resident myself, I’ve heard a few variations of this question over the years. One suggests the blue pointy steel things represent the crown of thorns Jesus was forced to wear during the crucifixion, and the steel I-beams nearby are supposed to be the cross.
I kind of have a hard time seeing that, but then sometimes I can sort of see it. I suppose that’s what abstract art is about.
Greg Walker, director of Fletcher Parks & Recreation, said the steel artwork was created in 2013 and 2014 as part of a Blue Ridge Community College student steel art class project. Brian Glaze was the BRCC instructor on the project.
“He no longer works at BRCC, and all the students involved were Henderson County resident students,” Walker said via email. “Brian Glaze said the project was an abstract steel art project using triangles, rectangles, squares, and absolutely nothing in the project was religious-based at all.”
Glaze also responded to my email about the artwork, first noting that the three sculptures “have been in the park for roughly ten years now with no concern over subject matter.”
“With abstract art, the subject is not as obvious as representational art,” Glaze said. “Therefore, this creates an active situation between the viewer and the artwork. Two or 200 people may come to a different conclusion as to what they see, or what they want to see.”
Glaze said the sculptures were created by three students in the associate’s of fine art degree program in the “Sculpture II” class.
“In their development, the students focused more on shape, color and scale aside from material choice,” Glaze said. “Since this was their first exploration in public art, I exposed these students to mainly sculptors of the 1960s to 1980s which were more about aesthetics than subject matter.”
Glaze also said that as an educator he’s made a point of not suppressing students’ voices, but he also would not have “proposed this work for permanent (public) display without being forthcoming about a theme or topic which could be polarizing.
“In this situation, someone saw something in these three sculptures,” Glaze said. “That’s great that these works are still creating a dialogue within the community. But one interpretation doesn’t define the artist’s intentions.”
The work likely will evoke other interpretations, he added.
Question: Having recently renewed my auto registration, I was once again vexed at seeing the $30 Asheville city surcharge on the bill. When I used to pay in person at the County Tax Office, personnel there could not explain when or with what justification this surcharge was imposed. An explanation, please.
My answer: “Vexed” is definitely a word we need to use more, along with “vexation.” Also, I’m adding “wrath,” “gall” and “spleen” to my list of must-use words, so watch out.
Real answer: Buncombe County spokesperson Lillian Govus quickly noted, “The county only collects the fee for the city.” She also pointed me to this city website page, which features a press release from 2016 titled, “Asheville to let paving contracts. Increase tax to help pay for improved roads.”
That release states the city maintains 404 miles of road, and the Public Works Department has to determine each year which roads need repaving, which of course is expensive.
“The new vehicle fee increase is one way the city will be able to spend more on getting the roads in better shape,” the release states. “During the 2015 session, the General Assembly granted municipalities the authority to increase the annual motor vehicle license fee up to a maximum of $30. While the City of Asheville’s motor vehicle license fee had been $10 in the past, the 2016-2017 budget raises it to $30.”
That bump generates an extra $1.4 million in additional funding, and the additional $20 can be used only for street maintenance. Of the remaining $10, $5 goes to public transit, $5 to general revenue.
“Motorists will see this fee on their vehicle registration bill,” the release states. “This increase will be reflected when you go to register your tag. It is a flat fee, unlike the vehicle taxes which vary with the value of your car.”
Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at email@example.com or 828-337-0941.