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A tree grows in Ives Alley: ArtWalkers paint leaves for sculpture

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Marlee Lavin, 4, (left) and her brother Cayden Lavin, 7, (bottom right) refill the paint brushes at opposite ends of the table while painting aluminum cutouts of leaves at Arts of the Albemarle, Friday evening. To the upper right just out of the photo is their older brother Jaxon Lavin, 9. Friday night was the First Friday ArtWalk and several people took turns painting their own leaves, which will be included in a metal tree sculpture that is planned for Ives Alley, located off Poindexter Street between Arts of the Albemarle and the former Carolina Theater.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Visitors to First Friday ArtWalk in downtown Elizabeth City Friday evening had an opportunity to be part of something big — painting metal leaves that will be attached to a metal tree sculpture in the alley behind the Arts of the Albemarle building.

Local metalworks artist Mike Boyce is creating a tree from salvage metal to become the hallmark of Ives Alley. The alley has been given that name because historical research determined that a man named Ives operated a stable at the site.

The public art project, which is being funded by a grant that the Albemarle Area Association of Realtors secured through the National Association of Realtors, also will include tables that local art classes from schools around the area will help decorate.

Although the refurbishment of the alley may continue in various ways, the core of the project — the tree and the tables — will be completed by the end of October because of the grant deadline.

Sean Lavin brought his three children to take part in painting leaves for the tree. He said his kids always enjoy the activities at First Friday ArtWalk.

“We try to make it every month,” Lavin said.

Marlee Lavin, 4, incorporated a rainbow of colors in painting the leaf. She said she likes color and wanted to use a lot of different colors in her design.

Jaxon Lavin, 9, opted for a more monochromatic blue treatment. He said he likes to paint and enjoys art. In his art class at J.C. Sawyer Elementary School he has had the opportunity to participate in pottery-making and carving, he said.

Sean Lavin said he thinks the public art project in Ives Alley is another example of the revitalization that is occurring in Elizabeth City’s downtown.

“This whole downtown area has got a lot of buzz going on right now,” he said.

That buzz is building incrementally, he said.

“Little bits, bit by bit, before long it’s going to have the whole downtown area transformed,” Lavin said.

Janet Jones also painted a leaf for the metal tree Friday night. She explained that she is an artist but not really a painter.

“This is not my forte,” Jones said.

Jones is a jewelry artist who works out of her home.

“I just do it for fun,” she said.

Jones painted her leaf in a combination of green, yellow and orange that she said reminded her of fall.

Coleen Curtis of the Albemarle Area Association of Realtors said a small group that included her and Elizabeth City Downtown Inc. Executive Director Debbie Malenfant had walked the downtown area looking for a good location for the grant-funded art project and selected the alley.

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