Local artists selected for Celebrating African Americans Through Public Art (CAAPA)

Artists selected for Asheville project Joseph Pearson and Phyllis Utley
Muralist Joseph Pearson and literary artist Phyllis Utley


The City of Asheville and Celebrating African Americans Through Public Art (CAAPA) are pleased to announce the selection of two local artists — Joseph Pearson, a mural artist and Phyllis Utley, a literary artist —  to work alongside Art Ecologie. Their collaborative artwork will be installed at the corner of Biltmore Avenue and Eagle Street . Their transformation of the space includes a mural and a  multi-dimensional cube installation of metal/wood and bright imagery representing the past and the future of the community. 


The inclusion of local artists in this process is an important part of the community-informed design process. The local artists will provide needed leadership, guidance and community engagement; and promote the  inclusion of authentic memories and the legacy of local artists. Their work will conclude with the  installation of public artwork that will honor THE BLOCK


Artist statements

Phyllis Utley, literary artist: “ In this side of Eternity I help people Re-Member, Re-Frame, Re-Construct. The world is our stage – at home, at school, at play, at work. Everyday we create. We re-create who we really are. I see you. I see you see me. I see you see me seeing you. I see you and me. I see us.


Joseph Pearson, muralist:The majority of my 40 years as a professional artist has been devoted to addressing social/political issues, especially as it relates to Black folks. My interest in social/political issues is informed by my early experiences coming of age during the VietNam War and the Civil Rights era. I am interested in telling the story of the “Everyman.“


Save the date!

Artists, community partners, and leadership team of  Celebrating African Americans Through Public Art (CAAPA) invite the community out to celebrate the installation and unveiling of this completed work, and an additional Art Ecologie artwork on Market Street at Court Plaza from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 17. Refreshments will be served. Please RSVP with your attendance to smonson@ashevillenc.gov


Program background

In 2018, the City of Asheville’s Public Art and Cultural Commission announced the creation of the  Visiting Artist Program, now Celebrating African Americans Through Public Art (CAAPA) . The 2018 partnership is funded by the City’s Percent for Public Art Policy, sponsored by the Public Art and Cultural Commission, and being guided by a local leadership team of artists, arts and culture educators, activists, and promoters.  


Project goals include creating community-informed art that better reflects Asheville’s underserved communities, and addressing the  need to diversify the city’s public art collection. Celebrating African Americans Through Public Art focuses on the histories, contributions, and experiences of the African American community of Asheville. 


For more information

For more information on this project, or with questions, please contact Project Manager Cortina Caldwell at connect@theadeproject.org. For general questions about the City of Asheville’s public art program, email Steph Monson Dahl of the Economic Development Department at smonson@ashevillenc.gov.