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River Park Arch installation began Tuesday, March 15, 2022.


The Hillsborough Arts Council (HAC) and the Orange County Arts Commission (OCAC) along with representatives from the Town of Hillsborough and Orange County are excited to announce the installation of River Park Arch beginning Tuesday, March 15, in River Park in Downtown Hillsborough. The public is invited to River Park over the next several weeks to watch the installation and meet the artist, including during Last Fridays ArtWalk on Friday, March 25. 

The project was initiated when an approximately 250 year-old, venerable Southern Red Oak on Calvin Street in West Hillsborough fell during Hurricane Florence in September, 2018. Identified as one of Hillsborough’s “Treasure Trees,” the project partners responded to a call from the community to repurpose the wood.

Jonathan Brilliant, a Raleigh-based installation artist, was chosen following extensive jurying to install his design at the southern entrance of Downtown Hillsborough just inside River Park. Brilliant’s site-specific artwork was chosen from thirty-two initial applicants and three finalists. Brilliant’s large-scale installation incorporates complex latticework from strips of the repurposed wood that form organic, cylindrical shapes constructed over a steel frame. 


River Park Arch stands about fifteen feet high with two open dome-like structures at either endpoint. These base structures are inspired by the huts created by the Occoneechee tribe that lived along the Eno River in the 17th Century.  “The re-purposing of the Calvin Street tree into the lattice for this new welcoming sculpture for the park will provide a physical and lasting connection to the beloved historic tree that provided the material,” says Brilliant.


Gail Cooley, long-time Hillsborough Arts Council board member and arts advocate, states, “This project represents a ‘treasure to treasure’ scenario.  Hurricane Florence downed the Calvin Street Treasure Tree just as we said goodbye to Patrick Dougherty’s Stickworks along the Riverwalk, two disappointing events for our community. Turning the remains of this tree into a new public artwork exemplifies the resilience of our town and the uplifting of spirit that art brings to our community.”

This project was made possible in part by the generous support of The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation and the Hillsborough Tourism Board and Tourism Development Authority.

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