A guide to the best public art in downtown Asheville, NC


Hoss Haley’s Ripple I Photo courtesy of Momentum Gallery

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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.

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Dirck Cruiser’s Energy Loop I Photo by AVLtoday team

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.

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Hoss Haley’s Pergola I Photo by AVLtoday team

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.

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Henderson + Bishops’ Liminal I Photo by AVLtoday team

Liminal I Ian Henderson + Shae Bishop

Located on the outside of the Center for Craft, the vibrant two-story 3D concrete tile installationLiminal” was installed in January 2020 and is one of downtown’s newer pieces of public art.

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Hoss Haley’s Pack Square Fountain I Photo by AVLtoday team

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.

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Albert Paley’s Passage I Photo by AVLtoday team

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.

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Hoss Haley’s Ripple I Photo courtesy of Momentum Gallery

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.

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Henry Richardson’s Reflections on Unity I Photo by AVLtoday team

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.

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Mel Chin’s Wake I Photo by AVLtoday team

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.

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