New ‘herd’ of sculptures go up

The was on hand to see Brooklyn-based artist Wendy Klemperer installing her metal "Elk" sculptures along McIntire Road (click on video to watch!) this morning, which involved welding the antlers on and lifting them into place with a crane. Klemperer works with twisted scraps of rebar, a common type of steel bar used to reinforce concrete structures, to create large-sized animal groupings."I proposed different groups of animals," says Klemperer. "But Charlottesville chose the elks."Fall isn't only a time to drive around looking at the beautiful foliage, it's also a time to drive around looking at the new crop of Art-In-Place sculptures.Every October since 2001, the non-profit organization has been putting up 8 to 10 new selections of the now familiar roadside attractions. Each year, says organizer Elizabeth Breeden, the City buys at least one of the ten sculptures based on its popularity.

"When you see them up," says Breeden. "People seem to know what ones are the popular ones. And if you don't like them, don't worry," says Breeden. "It will most likely be gone in a year."

Breeden recalls one early critic saying he thought that Art-In-Place was " a ridiculous idea at first," but later had a change of heart. "I remember he said, 'It's just so American to look at art from your car'," Breeden laughs.

Indeed, even though some might find the sculptures ridiculous, even down-right ugly, their yearly arrival appears to be growing on us.

So what's your favorite? The running man with his coffee on the 250 bypass? That yellow and orange thing with the big hands at Meade Park? The giant cow at 5th street extended? How about the new alligators on the 250 bypass near Meadowbrook Heights Road? Or that giant wave of wood on McIntire Road? Or maybe it's the "Art-Out-Of-Place" parody on Rio that mocks the stalled Meadowcreek Parkway?

Each year, says Breeden, about 40 artists from around the country send in about 100 works. Those chosen are selected by a committee that includes a gallery owner, an artist, an art professor, a city representative, and a local citizen. The artist receives a $1500 stipend, the opportunity to work large, a spot in a "gallery" viewed by nearly a million people every year (according to recent traffic data), and a chance to win $1000 in a yearly competition.

1 comment

I know art in a public display as the roadside is a winfall for artist. I'm glad whenever I see new art just 'show up "on our highways. I don't like every one that goes up but for the most part it is entertaining. I am especially glad that they change, even the one's I like. Life seems to change along with them, even those things I don't want to change, they seem to change too nevermind what I like, one thing you can be certain of is that it will change no matter what. And so do the sculpters works, life should reflect art and visa versa, here it seems to. The quality of the art has improved as time has gone by, I like that too.