Brick gives civic art a colorful palette

It’s the first spring for the Imaginary Garden – the first spring in what will be more than a century of springs.

Completed last November, the Imaginary Garden is a horizontal sculpture that’s about 15 feet wide and 800 feet long, a promenade made up of two intertwining vines that travel the length of the Walnut Street Park in Cary, North Carolina.  It’s a complex design in native red, yellow and chocolate brown Pine Hall Brick clay pavers, which starts at the parking lot and ends at the opposite end of the park, where it bursts into a blossom to create a plaza.

Walnut Street Park is an 11-acre oasis near a busy commercial corridor, in a place that takes its public spaces – and its public art – seriously. Landscape architect Brian H. Starkey, RLA/ASLA, said the installation brings an overall level of playfulness and imagination to the overall aesthetic of the park, while evoking movement and nature.

The idea of the Imaginary Garden was to connect one end of the park to the other, providing an organizational spine and a logical divider. To one side, there is a manicured lawn and a place for families to visit and play.  To the  other side, there is a natural area of woods and wetlands with mulched hiking trails. The brick patterns within the Imaginary Garden enhance the pedestrian experience and provide interest for children who follow the bands of colors as they walk.

Barbara Grygutis, a Tucson-based sculptor, was commissioned to design the Imaginary Garden, a promenade that would combine a feeling of tranquility and unity with nature, punctuated by elements of surprise and interest.

Grygutis set out to make something more than a greenway, more than a path, something that would be a destination where you sit and watch people, meet a friend or read a book. She decided to use native North Carolina brick as her medium, because it is a material made from the local earth and has a rich history in Cary and the surrounding Research Triangle Park region of North Carolina.

Judging from the families who were at the Walnut Street Park on a recent Sunday, the town, the landscape architect, the artist and the installers got it exactly right.

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