Events Visual Arts

Art at the Arboretum

Above: Artist, Robert Ransom

NC Arboretum: Two Extraordinary Exhibits

Two exhibits, containing works as diverse as the artists who created them, open this month at The North Carolina Arboretum.

Opening first on July 16 and running through September 18 in the Arboretum’s Education Center Gallery is Shadow and Color, featuring masterwork paper sculptures by Leo Monahan, a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.

Leo made his first paper sculpture in 1950 for Liberty Records, and went on to help design and produce more than 1,200 album covers. One of his later clients in the 1980s and 1990s was the Walt Disney Company. Leo was assigned the artistic task of making paper models of the proposed theme parks. “I created design elements that are part of every Disney park in the world except the one on in China,” says Leo.

Art at the Arboretum

Artist, Leo Monahan (Photo by Michael Mauney)

Working with the simple tools of X-Acto knives, scissors, burnishers, paints, brushes, sponges, and paper, Leo creates intricate sculptures that must be seen to be fully appreciated for their artistry. He says he doesn’t draw the designs on the paper, preferring instead, in his words, “to draw with the knife and whatever happens was meant to happen.”

The other exhibit—Rays of Dawn; Growth through Nature—will run from July 23 through September 18, also in the Arboretum’s Education Center. This show will feature works by artists from Aurora Studio & Gallery in Asheville. Aurora is especially designed to support artists in recovery from behavioral health needs, addiction, and/or homelessness.

This particular exhibit will showcase more than 20 pieces, including paintings and some small wire sculptures. The pieces will reflect the artists’ recent focus on the restorative powers that can be found in nature.

There will be an open house at 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, for the Aurora exhibit that will include a “wishing tree” donated by Michael Balogh, owner of Mountain Meadows Nursery. The public is invited to add a wish or affirmation to the tree to acknowledge someone they know who may be struggling with problems similar to those being experienced by the artists. The tree will then be donated to an organization that will be chosen for its mission of healing.

As part of this exhibit there will also be two special events: Plein Air Painting with Sandy Brugh Moore and Aurora participants (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on August 17); and Plein Air Painting with the Asheville Urban Landscape Painters (9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on September 6).

Admission is free for Arboretum Society members or with the standard parking fee of $12 per personal vehicle. The NC Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way in Asheville. To learn more, visit, or call 828.665.2492.

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