A Collaboration Between Blue Ridge Conservancy and the Watauga Arts Council Brings Art to the Middle Fork Greenway

Last Updated on December 14, 2023 10:20 am

Blue Ridge Conservancy and the Watauga Arts Council are working to bring public art to the Middle Fork Greenway. This week, Zach Smith-Johnson and Fred Mead’s “Home” sculpture was installed at the 321 Trailhead, joining Cindy Michaud’s mosaic posts at Sterling Creek Park. Funding for the projects came from the Conservation Fund, a grant administered by the Appalachian Regional Commission in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The Middle Fork Greenway is a linear park, like a green ribbon connecting Blowing Rock and Boone, and it is so much more,” says BRC Communications Director and WAC Board Member Leila Jackson. “Weaving art into the fabric of this ribbon creates a deeper tie to our high country community, environment, and cultural resources. Greenway art creates a signature of the place while connecting people to the natural surroundings.”

“The mission of WAC’s Art in the Outdoors is to use art to tell the story of our community and give our residents a chance to express themselves in a public space,” says WAC Executive Director Amber Bateman. “The outdoor art will also serve to attract folks to underutilized or new portions of our trails, enhancing the landscape and helping to disperse overcrowded areas of public lands.This is truly a dream come true.”

MFG Director Wendy Patoprsty: “We are grateful to the Watauga TDA, WAC, the artists, and also all of the community who have pulled together to make this greenway a reality. This is truly a community-wide effort – businesses who contribute their expertise and materials, businesses and individuals who support the annual Round-Up for the Greenway, and people who donate to Blue Ridge Conservancy to continue working on saving the places you love.”

The collaboration between BRC and the Arts Council is ongoing, and plans are in place for several sculptures at the future Boone Gorge Park, as well as a large-scale community mosaic project along the MFG corridor. For more information about the artists and the art already in place, visit the WAC page here.

Special thanks to Joe Temple and Chandler Concrete for their donation of the concrete pads for the sculptures, Joe Furman with the Economic Development Commission, the Watauga County Commissioners, and Watauga County Manager.

The 28-ft “Home” sculpture, newly installed at the 321 Trailhead

Mosaicist Cindy Michaud and one of her mosaic posts in Sterling Creek Park

MFG Director Wendy Patoprsty and WAC Executive Director Amber Bateman discuss plans for sculptures in Boone Gorge Park

Joe Temple of Chandler Concrete and artist Zach Smith-Johnson prepare the site for the “Home” sculpture

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