The Town of Clayton and the Clayton Public Art Advisory Board unveiled the newest outdoor public art student project, "Whimsical Birds," on Sam's Branch Greenway on Sunday, May 18, 2014.
To enhance the greenway and engage young people in the arts, the Public Arts Advisory Council envisioned the creation and installation of a repeating series of public art projects on the trail. The project is entering its third iteration - transforming from butterflies to birds - all crafted by local school children.
Visitors and residents flock by the hundreds to these gorgeous greenways, and now, to their surprise, about a mile into their trek from the Sam's Branch trailhead at 1358 N O'Neil Street, they'll be treated to the delightfully colorful creations of these young artists.
First they will see a permanent art installation by local artist Georges Le Chevallier, which includes two beautiful butterfly benches made of steel and aluminum and a unique bike rack and totem pole of butterflies made of stainless steel tubes and aluminum. In the first student art installation, Le Chevallier worked with Clayton High School art teacher Jane Roberts to assist dozens of Clayton High School and Powhatan Elementary School students to design and paint more than 40 wooden butterflies. They were attached to the rails of the curving fencing that winds along the greenway. Some of the butterflies imitated real local species and help serve as an educational tool. See them all here!
Now those butterflies have fluttered away, and on May 18th, the new installation of student art fly in: Whimsical Birds! This time the number of participating schools more than doubled. Under the direction of their art teachers, students from Clayton High, Clayton Middle and Powhatan and Cooper Elementary Schools designed and painted artful birds. Those butterflies were displayed and sold at the 2014 Millstock Music and Art Festival. Sales were brisk and more than $1,000 will now go toward the next student art project on the greenway! Look out for Millstock 2015 so you can have one of these birds for your own.
About the Trail
Sam's Branch Greenway is a beautiful 1.25-mile, 10-foot-wide paved pedestrian and biking trail made possible with roughly $600,000 in funding from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The greenway leads to the winding Neuse River and now connects with the newly dedicated Clayton River Walk on the Neuse, a 4-mile section of the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail. These trails now allow families to enjoy more than 30 miles of biking or hiking, all the way from Clayton to Falls Dam Lake in Raleigh. Learn more about the trail (PDF).
About the Artist
Georges Le Chevallier, a resident of Garner, is a professional artist and associate professor at the Living Arts College at the School of Communication Arts in Raleigh. Le Chevallier really wanted to give families a place to stop, sit and jump off their bikes and hopes the butterfly benches, bike racks and bridge adornments encourage people to slow down and enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna Clayton's trail has to offer. See him at work creating these difficult pieces in this cool music video. Or watch this special TV segment about him that aired on Fox50 in the program "Hola NC."