Sculpting Salisbury: Public Arts Commission holds meet and greet, welcome reception for visiting artists

Published 12:05 am Saturday, May 4, 2024

SALISBURY — For the past 16 years, the Public Arts Commission has been championing the voices of hundreds of artists with their annual sculpture shows. Starting this weekend, the entries for the 2024 Salisbury Sculpture Show will be set up all throughout the city to allow people to see the results of the countless hours 18 artists have put into these special art pieces. 

On the morning of May 2, the commission hosted a meet and greet for the first time at the city hall building that gave residents and artists the opportunity to connect with each other and to bring a human element to the inanimate sculptures.

John Parker, whose sculpture entitled “Archaeopteryx” was selected to be in the show, was one of the artists who attended the meet and greet. Parker said he is deeply indebted to Salisbury for giving artists like himself a platform to express themselves in a fulfilling way. 

“It’s fantastic, there aren’t enough of them. North Carolina is a good place for them, it’s really a great place for outdoor sculpture exhibits, there’s a lot of them that I have participated in the past and still do. It’s great because you don’t have to go to a museum to appreciate the work,” Parker said.

Even students from Salisbury Academy stopped by the meet and greet to talk to the artists and to paint egg cartons for the planning and neighborhoods department’s art project. Sophomore Baxter Heilig said he loves how Salisbury is dedicated to the arts by organizing these shows year after year. 

“I see the sculptures walking around all the time and I think it’s really cool and I definitely think it’s unique. I don’t know of many cities who, as small as Salisbury, have such a presence in promoting public art. We have so many theaters, a great artistic community, which I think is really amazing,” Heilig said.

Later on in the day, Susan and Edward Norvell, who is vice-chair of the commission, hosted a welcome reception for the artists, city staff and those who helped put the sculpture show together. Everyone there got to bask in the warm, spring weather while taking advantage of the bar and the free food.

While the sculpture show couldn’t happen without the artists, without Randy Goodman installing all of the sculptures for the past 15 years, it literally could not get off the ground. For the 2024 show, Goodman said plans for it started all the way back in July 2023.

“We got to get pads ready, in position, make out schedules. They have to choose where the artist is going to put the sculptures at,” Goodman said. “I usually do the ones that are hard or heavy, I use my bucket truck as a crane.”

Goodman hopes to be hired again for the 2025 show.

“I enjoy the people, the artists, they’re kind of unique people. You learn a lot,” Goodman said. 

Artist Charles Pilkey’s sculpture, called “Orpheus,” was inspired by the Greek hero who played such wonderful music it captivated both humans and gods. Pilkey’s art has received “a lot of rejections” so he values it when somewhere like Salisbury pays attention to him. 

“There are a lot of sculpture shows all over the country now, this is one of the better ones and they’ve been able to keep it going,” Pilkey said. “This is an enchanting town, it’s got real history, real interesting history, sophistication, it’s got class. It reminds me of Charleston.”