CLAYTON -- There will be no “Gates of Clayton” art on the Mountains to Sea Trail, but a new idea for the space will bring bright colors and a focus on nature.
More than 60 wooden painted butterflies will be used to decorate the trail. All of the butterfly designs will be based on species that are native to North Carolina. Garner-based artist Georges Le Chevallier presented graphics of his new idea to the public art advisory board last week.
“I am really into this now,” said Le Chevallier. “I was so infatuated with the gates, it took me two or three weeks to change gears.”
Part of the new plan includes featuring a flat portion next to the greenway, where there will be park benches, and a totem pole in the center. “There will be the outline of a butterfly as the back of the bench,” Le Chevallier said. He said when someone sits in the center of one of the benches, they will look like they have wings, and he hopes people use it to take pictures there.
The art advisory board unanimously approved of the idea.
Originally, the plan for the space was to use an international concept Le Chevallier came up with and presented to the board in October. The project, called “The Gates of Clayton,” included decorating 10 gates that would go up every half mile along the trail, each one featuring a different gate, including a rendition of the Arc de Triomphe of Paris and a depiction of the N.C. State Fairgrounds entrance.
While the idea with the gates was to make people focusing on travel and movement, Le Chevallier said the idea for the butterflies is for people to slow down and meditate on the surroundings.
“I want the viewer when they walk to be very aware of what’s going on,” Le Chevallier said.
There were logistical challenges as well as safetey concerns over building the gates. The project would have cost more than the $15,000 allotted in the budget, and the board raised concerns over how emergency medical services could fit through the gates.
The new plan still involves eliciting the help of local students. High school and elementary students will help paint each of the 60 wooden butterflies that will be placed on the fence next to the trail. The wooden butterflies will lead up to the area where there will be park benches. Also, Le Chevallier said he would like to plant butterfly bushes, and flowers that attract butterflies in the open part of the trail to attract them to flutter in the area.
Larry Bailey, Parks and Recreceation Director Larry Bailey brought up the issue of vandalism, and the art advisory board lamented the possibility of that happening. They briefly discussed installing a surveillance camera to protect the art, but did not make a motion to approve that.
The next step is to take the idea before the technical review committee in February. That committee will take a critical look at the logistics required for the project. Then the public art advisory board will take the idea before the town council with a recommendation.