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Community Making Mosaics for “My Watauga” for Middle Fork Greenway Trail Project

As development of the Middle Fork Greenway progresses to connect Boone to Blowing Rock, groups of community members are gathering to collectively create a piece of public art for the trailhead at Sterling Creek Park. Named “My Watauga,” the sculpture will be a square column about 6 feet in height featuring mosaic squares depicting differing aspects of living in our unique area.

One of the first “make it” events occurred with the staff of the Blue Ridge Conservancy, the group responsible for acquiring the land and overseeing its development. “We don’t usually make art at our meetings,” laughed Wendy Patoprsty, Middle Fork Greenway Director. “But it was fun to work with the tiles and create pieces that were not only representative of what we love about Watauga but which will be on a piece of art seen by others for a long time to come.”

“This is truly a community piece,” explains Cindy Michaud, a local artist spearheading the project. “We have had pieces made by Girl Scouts, afterschool kids with WYN, senior citizens, The Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, and even a retirement party which combined art making with celebration.” Michaud explained that each piece, about 7” x 7”, is made from glass shapes put on a mesh which is then made into a tile to be adhered to the post. “It’s like a totem pole, each tile symbolizing a different aspect of our life here,” she concluded.

Community volunteers are also building the sculpture’s mold, mixing the concrete and pouring the form which will then be covered with the tiles and additional trim colors. A local potter has made and contributed the form to be used as the topper.

Amber Bateman, director of the Watauga Arts Council which is sponsoring the piece, acknowledged the huge amount of volunteer effort going into the project. “We are so grateful to the Watauga Community Foundation for awarding us a grant which will help cover the cost of materials needed to make this happen,” she said. “But it would not come together if folks did not step forward with additional skills and time. It is amazing how citizens have become engaged with providing public art.” Bateman said the WAC is committed to a variety of public art projects in the community. “Public art is free to the viewer,” she pointed out. “It meets a person right where they are, no admission, no

lines. It says ‘touch me,’ ‘enjoy me’, have an experience with art that doesn’t require a gallery.”
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“Community Making Mosaics….”

When queried about additional help Michaud smiled. “Well, I would love to have a couple of strong, young backs volunteer on cement mixing day. And it would also be cool to have a former tile setter come forward for some consult work when we begin to adhere the pieces to the post. Most folks have been excited to contribute to a piece they can later bring their family and friends to see and enjoy. It’s like leaving a legacy in the park.”

So far enough groups have been scheduled to make the needed tiles but Michaud says the joy of creating with citizens in this manner makes her hesitant to stop. “We have fun, we introduce mosaic arts and we create a piece for others to enjoy,” she explains. “I would love to have other sculptures that involved citizen input. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be walking or biking along the Greenway and stumble upon a little mosaic wonderland at this trailhead….?” Hard to stop an artist from imagining.

For additional information or to volunteer assistance contact either Bateman (828-264-1789) at the Watauga Arts Council or Michaud (321-795-0816) at Cindy Michaud Art.