***UPDATE*** Click below for a video showing how this great piece was installed!
A new chapter in the 4-year renovation and updating of the U.S. Cellular Center begins this week with the installation of a new terrazzo floor in the lobby of the Thomas Wolfe Theater.
The public artwork, designed by artist Joan Weissman, will be a vibrant addition to the U.S. Cellular Center, enhancing the experience for visitors while preserving the architectural feel of the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium and Asheville’s Art Deco style.
“The goal was to respect and refer to the site’s structural and decorative details, while adding a fresh and dramatic new focal point,” Weissman says.
Weissman was selected from a pool of 50 artists who responded to the City of Asheville’s call for artists in April. The call for artists was open to artists both local and national and who had experience in terrazzo floor design. Three finalists were selected, and a panel consisting of local artists and representatives from the City of Asheville and the Public Art and Culture Commission brought its recommendation before the full Commission for approval.
Noted for her rug designs, Weissman also creates designs for terrazzo floors, tapestries and fabrics. Her work has been featured in Interior Design, Hali, Western Interiors, Paris Home and Veranda. Her floor designs can be found at the University of New Mexico Center for the Arts and in the New Mexico Governor’s Mansion.
Like Weissman’s design, the floor installation itself incorporates a new vision with a historical component: Asheville Tile, the company performing the installation, represents three generations of work in the city. Owner Ronnie Smith’s father Albert laid the original lobby floor when the Civic Center was constructed in 1974, and Smith’s grandfather installed the mosaic on the front of Asheville City Hall.
“It’s really a neat thing to see this kind of family tradition being carried out in person,” says U.S. Cellular Center General Manager, Chris Corl. The installation, Corl says, is being recorded in the form of a time-lapse video that will be posted online when the project is complete in mid-September.
The City of Asheville remains dedicated to providing public art that enhances and confirms the city’s artistic culture and creative economy.
“This public art project perfectly illustrates how art creates economic opportunity that ripples through the community, providing opportunities for local companies and craftspeople,” said Debbie Ivester, assistant director of the City of Asheville’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department.
The installation of the U.S. Cellular Center’s terrazzo floor is part of an ongoing $12 million renovation of the facility. Needed roof repairs, restroom updates, box office redesign and other enhancements have already been completed. Funding for the renovations comes from the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, the Tourism Development Authority and U.S. Cellular. Ongoing projects include the expansion of convention and box seating spaces and the exterior lobby entrance. The enhancements are a large part of attracting new business and events like the SoCon Basketball Championships to Asheville.
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