On our way north we passed through another of our old corporate home towns, and there interred Pink’s ashes next to the graves of Samantha and Nike, our earlier great Springer Spaniels. We have listed our home and dropped in to see how its cleanup and repair work is going. I thought the place looked pretty good; Kat was disappointed. Maybe that’s a half-full or half-empty thing. We did agree that the vegetation has grown substantially.
Our campground was Willow Point S.P. on the banks of Falls Lake. Willow Point has large campsites spaced among generous intervals of deciduous forest that lend full shade to most sites. That shade proved a virtual lifesaver for campers and a literal one for air conditioners in those 90 degree afternoons. It has water, juice, and a dump station, and only fills up on weekends.
There is a fine museum of modern outdoor sculpture in Carrboro operated by husband and wife Mike Roig and Clay Carmichael. Clay writes award-winning books for adolescents, books that win because they’re entertaining and cleverly put together. I enjoy them, and that is something I infrequently say about anybody else’s prose. Check out Wild Things and Brother, Brother.
Mike builds art from steel (garden variety, or stainless) and finishes them with a proprietary blend of pigments and an oil-based finish conditioner. He bends, polishes, welds, bolts, and balances pieces into fixed or mobile art. Themes have included musical instruments, Easter Island totems, a sailing ship without a crew (a rare venture into political commentary), and beaucoup free-flowing shapes.
Kat and I discovered Mike’s art at an open-studio tour months after we moved to Raleigh in 2001. Not long after that, the Ice Storm of 2003 killed a lovely half-grown magnolia which had been the focal point of Kat’s front yard flower garden. Neither of us wanted to wait ten years for a new tree to grow up, and over time a plan formed to replace it with metal or marble sculpture. I agonized over the idea of spending nearly as much on art as a new sofa; a country up-bringing will do that to you. Our choice, Small Whirled, was a five-foot spike topped with wind-driven hoops turning on a common axis. Upon arrival we learned Mike had sold it earlier in the week, but he had something else in mind. Also a mobile, Salsa Dancer was made of sheet and diamond-plate steel in a copper and green pigment. But Dancer was more substantial, even powerful, and it proved a fine centerpiece for Kat’s flowers.
Over the years we have watched Mike’s technique and skills grow. He still creates lots of art within reach of the middle class, but now and then he takes on large scale projects that sell for sums that might fetch a new car. In my years in land development I always hoped to work on a community sufficiently upscale to merit commissioning a massive Roig sculpture to highlight its entrance monument. That never happened, but in Texas Kat and I found such a development with a life-sized Longhorn steer made of chrome and rusty steel. Vindication is sweet!
If you find yourself in the Chapel Hill area, drop in on Mike and Clay. Shown here are his images of some of my favorite Roig works. Here is a nearly complete listing: www.MikeRoig.com
6 thoughts on “Art, Real Estate, and Water”
How interesting! Somehow I don’t think I was aware that you had an NC connection. I am a Raleigh native and UNC-CH grad and have lived in pretty much every town and city in the Triangle area at one time or another. I still love this area and consider it “home”, though when we’re in NC now, we’re usually in Hickory, since my mother lives there. I’m sure I must have seen at least one of Mike’s sculptures over the years. Good luck with the house sale!
Yep, fashionable North Raleigh is the best place we have ever lived. Two hours to cool Atlantic beaches, or two to cool mountains. A real newspaper, excellent health care, and good traffic except from 7:30 to 10:00 and 4:00 to 7:00. Only downside is ACC football: no LSU to be seen!
Ha! When in the Triangle, you just have to suck it up, become a Tarheel fan, and focus on NCAA basketball season and you’ll find it much more rewarding! I grew up inside the Beltline in Raleigh, long before that was trendy. I have wonderful memories but have never actually lived in Raleigh as an adult. Tried many of the surrounding communities, though. Chapel Hill and Orange County are our favorites as they fit our politics. 🙂
Yeah, and when we moved to Valley Ranch they all said “You must now root for the Cowboys!” I tried for a few weeks, but then my resolve collapsed when the Eagles were trying to beat ’em with a 40 yard field goal as time ran out. After that, it was back to the Saints, and go grocery shopping at Cowboys kickoff time. The stores were always empty!
I live down the street from Mike Roig. My daughter attended the elementary school near his home, and would walk over to see the sculpture garden (and noted Pokemon Go Battle Gym) and has befriended Mike. Mike has been really sweet (and tolerant) of my daughter, and his art work is amazing.
It amazes me that people find this goofy blog. But thank you for reading us, and holy moly, can’t that man bend steel and bring it to life!