One of the most visible and celebrated public art initiatives in Clayton is the Annual Downtown Sculpture Trail.
The Clayton Public Art Advisory Board received more than 80 applications from across the country for this year’s trail. These applications were boiled down and only twelve sculptures from North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, New York, and Pennsylvania were chosen during the final selection process.
“Ask yourself, what do these pieces do for the Town?" said Public Art Advisory Board Chair, Sara Perricone. "It says something about Clayton, that artists from across the country want to bring their pieces to our Downtown. It elevates our Town to a new level."
This year, Downtown Sculpture Trail patrons can expect to find pieces that inspire community engagement and beautify their surroundings. Clayton’s Downtown Sculpture Trail allows visitors and residents the chance to see something outside of the ordinary. Many of the sculptures also serve as unique conversation starters.
Floramingo by Joni Youngkins-Herzog is an expression of storytelling and cultural influences. The piece is inspired by Florida and the flora, fauna, people, and things you can find there. This sculpture, located in Horne Square, is a pop of color that is steeped in rich details. The leg is constructed out of buoys and covered in lottery tickets and pennies that Joni collected during her time in Florida.
Town of Clayton Mayor Jody McLeod (Right) and Joni Youngkins-Herzog (Left) in front of Youngkins-Herzog's sculpture Floramingo in Horne Square.
Glenn Zweygardt, the artist behind Town Square’s Malachite Voyager shared insight into the personal, historic, and international influences that brought his piece to life. The ruby-tinted “eye” of Malachite Voyager is a rare glass originally used in railroad stop lights that was developed in the 1920s in Corning, New York.
Zweygardt was also one of two Americans invited to Jingdezhen Institute in China, in 2001, to create international work. While there, the sculptor bought and imported two tons of Malachite, the rich green mineral rock you can see in the sculpture.
“This sculpture is an international and national example of what you can do with technique, knowledge, application, and creation,” said Zweygardt.
Installation of Malachite Voyager by Glenn Zweygardt in Town Square.
The Sculpture Trail’s nationwide reach is partly due to Jim Davis, who was hired by the Public Art Advisory Board in 2020. Davis worked to connect the Town with innovative artists who would bring diversity to the Sculpture Trail candidate pool. With Davis's connections, the Town has cultivated an artistic reputation and is known as a community that welcomes artists from all backgrounds.
Each year, the Public Art Advisory Board nominates seven to nine individuals to form a selection committee representing the Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown business owners, and Clayton residents. The selection committee is then encouraged to choose sculptures that create a sense of discovery and surprise and bring life and movement to the Downtown landscape. Kinetic devices, dynamic shapes, and bright colors are designated desirable attributes.
While this program continues to grow, the Public Art Advisory Board upholds its deep affinity for North Carolina artists. The board will always ensure local sculptures are featured on the sculpture trail.
Interviews with the artists and Mayor, Jody McLeod, were filmed and are available to watch on the Downtown Sculpture Trail webpage and the Town of Clayton YouTube channel. Interview content enables patrons to learn more about what inspired the artist behind the sculpture and how it will shape the Town's landscape for the next year.
Link to 2022-2023 Clayton Sculpture Trail YouTube Playlist
More 2022 Sculpture Trail information and a trail map/brochure are also available on the Downtown Sculpture Trail webpage.
Link to Annual Downtown Sculpture Trail Webpage
Link to 2022-2023 Sculpture Trail Brochure