Each July, Cary Visual Art embellishes downtown Cary with sculptures made by national artists and chosen by CVA’s committee for its outdoor sculpture exhibition.
CVA has installed more than 50 works of art over the last 20 years for the annual sculpture exhibition, which displayed the pieces for 10 months. This year, CVA has decided to keep the current sculptures for another 10 months due to their popularity and positive support from the town. With the exception of “Succulent I” by Susan Moffatt, the seven other sculptures will be on exhibit until April 2018.
In order to make the exhibition possible, CVA conducts an international marketing campaign via magazines, ads and forums, says Catherine Howard, CVA’s executive director. Once artists apply, two jurors select the pieces for the show.
“It’s less of a résumé competition than, ‘Is the piece awesome?’” said Howard.
The 2016 jurors were Juliana Novozhilova, artist in residence at SAS, and Bill Rodgers, an art designer and curator, also with SAS. The pair selected eight pieces from the 70 artists who applied. The jurors also decided which sculpture deserved best in show.
From there, Howard proposed the sculptures and their locations to the Town of Cary. Once they had the OK from the local government, CVA and the artists began preparing and installing the art around town.
“If you have works that are out in the public realm, it completely breaks down that barrier and totally opens up the experience of viewing art to anybody, regardless of any socioeconomic difference,” said sculptor Jack Howard-Potter.
He lives in New York City with his family, where he works on his large-scale figurative sculptures.
Art brings color, culture and ideas out into public spaces, says Howard-Potter. His sculpture “Larm” was installed on the Town of Cary campus in July 2016. After applying for 10 years to be part of CVA’s outdoor sculpture exhibition, his piece won best in show.
About 30 of his sculptures can be found in galleries, sculpture parks and on government land across the country.
Even with Howard-Potter’s national presence, he really wanted to display his work in Cary.
“(Cary) had a really good reputation amongst the crowd of people that I do a lot of work with in public sculpture, so it was definitely one of the ones that I wanted to participate in,” he said.
Howard and CVA Board Vice President Susan Alexander say they want to move from temporary works to more permanent pieces around town. Extending the 2016-17 sculpture exhibition is the start of this change. The group also plans to install a set of swan benches that will remain at the new Carpenter Park on Louis Stephens Drive.
“We are trying to focus on thinking about lots of opportunities where we can have smaller things that are lower cost, and not necessarily high-cost, so that we can have continual community engagement,” Howard said.
“Our next step as an organization is not only to look at what are objects that help create the culture of Cary as an artistic place, but how can we as an organization foster that and be advocates of art in the community personally? That’s our next challenge,” she said.
Part of that mission includes supporting talented young artists.
CVA awards $2,500 scholarships to high school seniors who show a passion for art and plan to continue studying it. So far 19 scholarships have been awarded, including four in 2017 which were funded by Mercedes-Benz.
“We have been able to give quite a lot of money in the last few years to scholarship recipients, and we’d like to continue to do that,” Alexander said. “We think that’s valuable.”
Julia McGillicuddy earned her scholarship in 2016, while attending Cardinal Gibbons High School. She now attends Parsons School of Design in New York City.
“I was honored and I am really thankful for (the scholarship) and being appreciated as an artist,” she said.
CVA also has about 30 to 50 volunteers who carry out everything from day-to-day tasks to running large events like the annual Art Ball — CVA’s signature fundraiser — and the outdoor sculpture exhibition.
Volunteer Jim Davis, chair of the outdoor sculpture exhibition committee, has been working with CVA for 11 years. He and his fellow volunteers work with the artists remotely and manage the installation of the sculptures.
“Art is such a far-reaching thing that sometimes subtly enriches people’s lives. It causes conversations,” he said. “It’s something I believe in, something I’m passionate about, and I’m giving a little bit back to the community when I’m doing this.”
Anyone can get involved with CVA, says Howard.
“What we are also looking for is folks who are really interested in the scholarship program and who are interested in permanent placement for art,” she said. “Folks who want to get involved — there’s always a place for that.”
Cary Visual Art