Irvine and Wilkinson picked for 51 Biltmore Public Art Project

The City of Asheville announces the artwork selection for the 51 Biltmore Public Art Project to be located on the north exterior of the public parking deck next to the Aloft Hotel at 51 Biltmore in downtown Asheville. The mural of a woman surrounded by a background of an art deco horseshoe by the artist team Alex Irvine and Ian Wilkinson was chosen by the Selection Panel.

The 51 Biltmore Public Art Project began in 2013 with a call for artist qualifications which received over 150 applications, and three finalists were selected. The artists’ proposals were reviewed through a series of public input sessions and the citizen Selection Panel made the final selection. See background about the selection process here. Installation of the mural is expected in the summer of 2014. Follow the project progress here.

“The 51 Biltmore Public Art Project presents a wonderful opportunity to expand our public art collection, and initiate opportunities for local artists through a public process,” said Brenda Mills, economic development specialist of the City of Asheville. “Over 500 people gave us feedback on the artwork proposals which is clearly demonstrated in the Selection Panel’s final choice of artwork. “

Artists Alex Irvine and Ian Wilkinson teamed up to create a stylized mural using painted surface and ceramic tile that speaks to both the modern architecture of the Aloft Hotel and to Asheville’s historical terracotta buildings. The mural features a central figure of a woman as a daydreamer as she looks out over downtown Asheville as a place where creativity flourishes. In the background, an inverted art deco horseshoe pattern references the historic location of Asheville’s farrier trade.

Formerly of Asheville and now residing in New Mexico, Irvin’s ceramic tile murals can be found in prominent displays in Asheville including Hall Fletcher Elementary School, the Odyssey Center for Ceramics, and the Mission Hospital Donor Recognition Wall. “This is a dream come true to be back in Asheville,” Irvin said about the opportunity to return to Asheville. “Working late nights in a River Arts District studio, hovering above the downtown sidewalk on scaffolding, trowel and tile in hand, working next to a great friend… that is my dream job. I am really grateful for this opportunity.”

Known for his painted murals in Asheville, local artist Wilkinson states, “We are very thankful for this opportunity to collaborate again, and make something amazing for this city that we love so much. We are ready to work and make something great!” Samples of Wilkinson’s murals can be seen at Hall Fletcher and Claxton Elementary Schools, the Cotton Mill in the River Art District, and in the Asheville Mural Project in Triangle Park.

The City of Asheville Public Art Program oversees Asheville’s public art collection. The Public Art and Cultural Commission is responsible for approving the site and content of public art, and the development of an inclusive selection process that involves community feedback. Members also act as public art ambassadors by advancing the City of Asheville as an “arts destination” in cultural and economic development efforts.

The city’s public art collection includes the popular Urban Trail, a historic walking tour of downtown Asheville; along with other prominent works in the downtown area including but not limited to the Pack Fountain, Energy Loop, Deco Gecko and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The 51 Biltmore Public Art Project is part of the City’s Percent for Art Program.

For information about the 51 Biltmore Public Art Project, contact Basil Punsalan at 828-259-5552 or