You Don’t Have to Wait Until Fall for More Color in Asheville
The vibrantly colored steel sculpture entitled Eclectic Mantra created by nationally known artist Jonas Gerard was gifted to the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce in 2011 and installed on the lawn on the west side of the building. There it welcomed and intrigued thousands of visitors who admired it on their way into the visitor center–until a few months ago when it disappeared….
Apparently the four-year old sculpture captivated some four or five-year-old tykes a little too much. With its playful colors and intertwining shapes, Electric Mantra was irresistible to the children who saw it as the epitome of a play structure. And who could blame them? It has levels that make for easy climbing. Plenty of spaces which are perfect for poking an arm in or crawling through. And the colors are so deliciously yummy, there were probably a few toddlers who gave the sculpture a lick or two.
Over time though, the work of art was beginning to show some wear and tear, so Jonas and his crew removed it for repairs—which took much longer than anticipated. It took a while simply to figure out the best process for ensuring the piece’s longevity.
After much research, it was decided that a particular metal-based enamel primer—the kind used on cars—was the answer. So the sculpture took a ride to an auto body shop for priming. From there it went to Jonas’ studio for painting, and then back to the auto body shop for five layers of a polyurethane top coat (which is quite a bit more than is typically used on cars.)
Although the form remained the same, the redo offered an opportunity for Jonas to add new life to it. Rather than repaint it to look exactly like the original, he wanted it to sport a new spectrum of colors and fewer patterned areas.
The new and improved Eclectic Mantra is now back in place at the Asheville Visitor Center. Like the original, its eye-catching hues pop against the background of natural green and brick.
And there is something else new to the installation. Small “No Climbing Please” signs had to be added to the concrete base. No climbing, but touching the art—just like in Jonas’ two River Arts District galleries—is always OK.