CLAYTON — One of the town’s nature spots is about to experience a metamorphosis, transforming from a quaint greenway, to an art locale with butterfly designs and a totem pole.
The town council has approved the butterfly art project proposed by Garner-based artist Georges Le Chevallier.
“I will spend the next couple weeks buying supplies and preparing,” said Le Chevallier, whose work has been showcased across the United States, and internationally, including contributing to National Geographic Magazine.
He will carve and paint more than 60 wooden butterflies that will decorate Sam’s Branch Greenway. Installation of the public art project will begin in April.
Students from Clayton High School will contribute art for the project. Right now, the students are submitting design proposals for butterflies they’d like to paint for the greenway. A design committee will pick the winning butterfly designs and then the winning students will get to paint them.
The Sam’s Branch Greenway stretches for about three miles, starting at North O’Neill Street and ending at the Neuse River. It passes through a quiet, wooded area that occasionally opens up onto tobacco fields.
Part of the artist’s plan for the space includes featuring a flat portion next to the greenway, where there will be park benches and a totem pole in the center.
The idea is to get trail visitors to slow down and meditate on their surroundings.
The butterflies will not be generic. Their designs will be based on species that are from North Carolina.
Le Chevallier said he has been researching butterfly species that he will feature and has been intrigued by one species, called “Question mark.”
The Question Mark butterfly is found in Canada and the eastern part of the United States including in North Carolina. With a curved line and a dot on its back, the butterfly floats in wooded areas or parks from May to September.
“I will definitely include this butterfly,” said Le Chevallier.
This stood out to Le Chevallier because he has been working on a public art series for the past three years involving putting question marks in sites across the world from Guatemala and New York City to Tanzania and Raleigh since 2010.
There will be other symbols and connections incorporated into the painted butterflies that a visitor may look past at first glance, said Le Chevallier. But, if the space is used like he’s intending it to be, people will then be able to appreciate the detail and intricacies that he plans to include.
Le Chevallier was born in France but has lived in Spain and New York. Several of his public art pieces have been on display in Raleigh, including a Question Mark Exhibition that decorated the outside of the Nature Research Center on Fayetteville Street last year.