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