Arts Outdoors

“Wild Art” at The North Carolina Arboretum at Asheville

Big Al. Grace Cathey, artist. Photos courtesy of The NC Arboretum

By Natasha Anderson

The North Carolina Arboretum presents Wild Art, a sculpture exhibit on view throughout the gardens from Thursday, April 1, through September 26. The exhibit features works by 16 local and national artists inspired by the natural environment.

“We want these pieces to evoke the natural world and wildlife and to draw guests in,” says the Arboretum’s exhibits curator Ashlee Lanier. “These amazing submissions represent part of the animal and plant world both here in our area and in other parts of the world.”

Among the 18 sculptures are portrayals of animals in motion including Big Al by Grace Cathey and Leo by Pokey Park. David Boyajian’s Carp and the Acorn focuses on the inherent elegance of natural forms. Raptor by John W. Parker and Nesting by Robert Coon explore more free-form themes and expressions.

Leo. Pokey Park, artist.

Discussions around Wild Art began nearly two years ago, as part of the Arboretum’s long-time commitment to supporting both fine arts and economic development in the region. “Asheville and the surrounding area has a multimillion-dollar arts industry, and in our 35 years, we’ve always supported economic opportunities for artists,” says Clara Curtis, the Arboretum’s senior director for mission delivery. “We made up our minds long ago to put our stake in the ground to host another major show in 2021.”

Curtis also notes that in the Arboretum’s open air and spacious gardens, guests can take in the art at their own pace and in a space where they are free to explore. “We want to offer a comfortable surrounding so that people can see sculpture, react to it and enjoy it,” Curtis says.

The Wild Art sculpture showcase is available to all guests during normal Arboretum hours at no extra charge. More information and upcoming updates from artists can be found at and on the Arboretum’s social media pages.

“Our art exhibitions aim to honor and preserve the unique cultural and natural heritage of the region,” Lanier says. “The collections and exhibits are inspired by the land, the people and the creative process.”

The North Carolina Arboretum is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 393. Admission is free. A standard $16 per vehicle parking fee is required for non-members. Special events and after-hours activities may require additional fees. For more information, call 828.665.2492 or visit

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