Catawba County News

Newton Adds New Sculptures to Art for the Public Exhibition

Newton Adds New Sculptures to Art for the Public Exhibition

Published: June 12, 2018

The Newton Public Art Commission recently added two new pieces of sculpture to its Art for the Public exhibition. The pieces are now on display at the Newton-Conover Auditorium and the Catawba County Justice Center.

The Art for the Public exhibition is a rotating public exhibition of sculpture throughout Newton. The project was supported by the United Arts Council of Catawba County through the North Carolina Arts Council, with funding from local governments, the State of North Carolina, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The United Arts Council funding provides artists’ honoraria for the loan of 12 sculptures installed outdoors in Downtown Newton and additional public spaces within the city for one year terms. Pieces in the exhibition are for sale, and the Newton Public Art Commission continues to accept artist applications for new pieces to add to the exhibition.

Jim Gallucci’s “Symphonic Gate” is installed outside the Newton-Conover Auditorium. Gallucci is has been a sculptor for more than 30 years. He works fulltime designing and fabricating sculpture in his Greensboro studio assisted by a staff of six. His work was most recently featured at the Art Biennale in Venice, Italy, one of the world’s most prestigious exhibitions of contemporary arts.

“Symphonic Gate” is a 16-by-24-foot metal gate constructed of galvanized and powder coated steel pipe. At the center of the piece is a red treble clef gate that revolves on its axis and features a metal sound tube that allows viewers to whisper messages through the gate.

Many of Gallucci’s most recent sculptures utilize the elements of doors and gateways.

“Gates have been found throughout the history of Western Civilization as not only utilitarian architectural elements, but as symbols in art and literature,” Gallucci said. “This symbolism arises from the paradox that the gate inherently possesses. A gate may be opened or closed; a way of passage or obstruction; a means of confinement or release. And today, the symbol of a gate is used to describe a computer chip at work, storing and releasing bytes of information.”

“‘Symphonic Gate’ is representative of the Newton-Conover Auditorium as a place to engage in music, art, dance and literature,” said Jill Towery, executive director of the Newton-Conover Auditorium. “We are thrilled to have an interactive sculpture that encourages creative thought and activity.”

“Symphonic Gate” is installed on the south side of the Newton-Conover Auditorium, which is at 60 West 6th Street, Newton.

John Ross’ “Red Fish” is installed in the Catawba County Justice Center’s central outdoor atrium, where it is surrounded by a serene expanse of river rock. Ross is a Morganton-based artist who studied sculpture and painting at Western Piedmont Community College. In college, he also became interested in welding, which led him to explore the possibilities of kinetic sculptures fabricated from steel and other hardware.

“Red Fish” is a kinetic metal sculpture that stands 16 feet tall and is reminiscent of the work of Alexander Calder, widely considered one of the most important American sculptors of the 20th century. Its black metal base holds a rod from which are suspended several pieces of painted metal. The rod is balanced atop the base such that the top pieces of the sculpture revolve when touched by the slightest breeze.

When the Justice Center was built, river rock was selected to provide attractive and low-maintenance ground cover as a first step toward enhancing the visual appeal of the atrium. The sculpture, which rests on a concrete pad in the center of the space, is complemented by the natural hardscape and can be viewed from windows lining both floors of the building.

“As a child I found ‘magic’ in the natural world that has changed the way I think about the universe and everything in it,” Ross said. “My job as a sculptor is to take in the universe around me and create my own version of it. My sculptures are not individual extensions of my mind, but are all pieces of a larger work, one that combined together will create my own universe.”

“We’re thrilled the new Catawba County Justice Center was selected as an Art for the Public site by the Newton Public Art Commission,” said Catawba County Manager Mick Berry. “This installation, along with others at our Main Library and Cooperative Extension facilities, is a good example of the Catawba County Commissioners’ strategic goal of enhancing quality of life through arts and culture. Being part of this exhibition is a fun way for us to promote the value of local arts to the many patrons who visit our buildings and grounds every day.”

The Catawba County Justice Center is located at 100 Government Drive, Newton.

Newton Mayor Anne P. Stedman said she was delighted to see additional pieces of art being added to the Art for the Public exhibition.

“The pieces of art in this exhibition serve to amplify Newton’s reputation as a center for arts and culture, and I am pleased we were able to collaborate with Jim Gallucci, John Ross, the Newton-Conover Auditorium Authority, and Catawba County to bring these beautiful works of art to the city,” Stedman said. “I hope everyone will take the time to appreciate these stunning sculptures while they are on display in Newton.”

For more information about the exhibition, including artist applications and purchase information, visit