Downtown Asheville is easy to appreciate, but a big reason I love it is its vast array of public art pieces. I absolutely adore all of our murals, but today I’m focusing on the eye-catching sculptures you can see throughout downtown that aren’t part of the Urban Trail, a walking tour through downtown that introduces you to historical events + local personalities like the Vanderbilts. Wanna join in + treat your eyes? Read on for our guide to downtown’s best public art pieces and where to find them.
Energy Loop I Dirck Cruiser
Installed in 1983, Asheville’s first public sculpture was originally supposed to go in front of the Jackson Building, but had to be moved because the sidewalk couldn’t support the weight required to anchor it. It wound up across from the Buncombe County Courthouse, where it lends an evocative presence to the area.
Pergola I Hoss Haley
An iconic site immortalized by the AVLtoday team’s holiday lip sync video, sculptor Hoss Haley’s 23 x 15 x 120 ft. stainless steel pergola above the Bascom Lamar Lunsford stage was constructed in 2009 with a shape that’s reminiscent of mountains on the horizon.
Liminal I Ian Henderson + Shae Bishop
Pack Square Fountain I Hoss Haley
Situated behind the Vance monument, Haley’s fountain is the first piece he contributed to Pack Square Park. Installed in 2009, the fountain measures 42 x 20 ft. in diameter and consists of bronze + granite.
Passage I Albert Paley
Located at the Federal Building on the corner of Patton Ave. and Otis St., this 40’ high corten weathering steel sculpture by world-renowned sculptor Albert Payley — recipient of the first Smithsonian Craft Fair Visionary Award — has graced the city since it was installed in 1995.
Ripple I Hoss Haley
This 90 sq. ft. perforated stainless steel sculpture — Haley’s latest — was installed above Momentum Gallery’s facade late last month and invites questions about our notions of movement + fluidity.
Reflections on Unity I Henry Richardson
The Asheville Art Museum‘s first public art sculpture, Reflections on Unity, was installed in September of 2019 and became an instant classic. The two-ton glass orb sits atop a locally sourced boulder and shimmers from every angle.
Wake I Mel Chin
Created by Mel and a group of students at UNC Asheville’s STEAM Studio, this 60 ft. long, 24 ft. high animatronic sculpture was unveiled in Times Square before being installed on the South Slope last March. Check it out until Sept. 7, when it will move to Sweden.