This large, colorful, 3-D mural by George Handy can bee seen in the Youth Services section of the Library and is visible as you enter. It was commissioned as part of the construction of the new building at 212 South Gaston Street and was completed and installed in 2007. Funding for this public artwork was generously provided by Doris and Frank Guest in honor of their daughters.
Mr. Handy’s work was chosen for the Library by a Mural Art Selection Committee. The committee members were R.E.D. “Andy” Anderson, Library Foundation Board; Tom Balke, Little Diversified Architects; Bill Byers, Brevard College, Nancy Meanix, community representative; Sharon Nunnelee, TC Arts Council; Jeanne Smith, Library Foundation Board; Pat Tooley, community representative; Anna Yount, Library Director; Lisa Sheffield, Adult Services Librarian; and Jeffrey York, ex officio, NC Arts Council.
An explanation of “Reading a River” from the artist, George Handy:
“This composition, designed of three sections, is linked with the image of a river running through the piece. The artwork identifies Transylvania County as the headwaters of the French Broad River, and my intent is to represent the natural mountain beauty and rich cultural heritage of this unique region.
The installation may be interpreted as three chapters of a book. Excerpts of James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, a novel about the recirculation of history and the natural world, are included to draw the viewer along the artwork from left to right as this movement will reveal the color changing feature of the three disks, or suns, displayed in the phases of rising, midday and setting. Also as the viewer’s perspective changes, the holographic visual effect creates magical color alterations along the river. This viewer-interactive effect is also used to symbolize the waterfalls: the blue water is transformed into blue green transformations as evidenced in the rush and fall of water when oxygen purifies it. Tourists drawn to this region by attractions such as Looking Glass Falls and other visitors to the library may engage in this dynamic effect. The title, Reading a River, references the terms used by river paddlers as they ‘read’ the ideal route just as mountain climbers ‘read’ a path ascending a mountainside.
The theme of a circulating river is intended to parallel the library’s main function as the term ‘circulation desk’ implies….a circulation of knowledge.
Section one is predominantly abstract, and section two introduces identifiable images, such as several animal forms and a musical instrument. Section three on the far right depicts an abstract and cubist rendering of a human figure composed of books. This triptych serves to symbolize the learning process: a natural evolution beginning with abstract ideas evolving into realized concepts, and finally culminated and refined with the resources found in this library. This young human figure is shown gazing into the westward setting sun, representing her future, as the inspiration from this natural mountain community and the advent of this new facility has culminated in her ability to create her own unique legacy as she goes out into the world.
The artwork includes symbols and invites the viewer to create his own. Symbols such as the dotted lines representing hiking trails and tunnels representing the Blue Ridge Parkway are included, among others, for the viewer to interpret just as a reader would a book.”
George Handy is a painter and sculptor based out of Asheville, NC. Handy works with a variety of materials including ceramic, wood, glass, and mixed media. Handy’s relief wall sculptures are featured in many residential and corporate spaces and offer colorful art with narrative painting and/or abstract design. For more information about the artist and his work, visit: www.georgehandy.com.