CARY — Downtown is up for another round of decoration.
On Friday, a dozen artists from across the country will haul in the larger-than-life pieces that will be Cary Visual Art’s next annual outdoor sculpture exhibition.
For anyone who’s wondered about the genesis of pieces like the elephant near the post office, or the rocket-powered barn, now’s the time to pay attention.
Each artist is responsible for installing his or her own piece, so this week’s event will be a chance to see sculptors at work – and to get a first look at the work that will line downtown until next June.
“Every artist actually, literally, packs up their sculpture and transports it here on a truck, or a trailer,” said Mary Davis Wallace, director of the nonprofit Cary Visual Art. “Sometimes you’ll see them parked outside a hotel, and it’s a really funny sight to see a metal elephant on the back of a truck.”
Over six years, the three-dimensional art along Academy Street has enthralled, mystified and occasionally offended visitors to downtown.
The best-known might be Dapple, the two-part horse sculpture that became a permanent Cary fixture. But dozens of pieces have filtered through downtown via Cary Visual Art’s national competition.
This year’s version drew 48 entries, of which 12 will be displayed until June.
For the first time, two have been selected by a “community choice” poll, which drew about 1,200 votes. A hired judge, Cheryl Stewart, chose the other 10 sculptures.
After months of preparation, the contest’s organizers are anxious to finally put metal, wood and ceramic downtown. Cary Visual Art will honor the incoming class with an artists’ reception on Friday. Tickets are $40.
“Every piece has a personality, and together they kind of all complement each other very well,” Wallace said. “We’re really excited to see them face to face finally.”
Each winning sculptor and the judge receive a stipend, and the “best in show” takes a $3,000 prize.
In all, Cary Visual Art spends about $30,000 to host the exhibition. Sales of reception tickets and sponsorships fund the program’s free workshops and walking tours; the nonprofit also received $9,500 from the town of Cary and $5,000 from the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County this year, according to its director.
Most of last year’s sculptures already have been packed up and returned to their owners.
But one – “Elise,” a scrap-metal bust of a woman – will remain on loan at J.M. Edwards Jewelry on Kildaire Farm Road.
Kenney: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @KenneyOnCary