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Plans under way for Plott hound art piece in Hazelwood

haywoodHazelwood will soon be home to a sculpture of a Plott hound, the fabled bear-hunting breed steeped in local lore and history.

It will be the 10th public art installment by the Waynesville Public Art Commission, but the only one so far to grace the streets of Hazelwood.

Hazelwood has been on the short list for a public art installation for a few years, but faced a major dilemma.

“It was really difficult to find a place to put something,” said Nick DePaolo, chair of the public art commission.

While the majority of public art installations are along Main Street, for the past two years the art commission has moved beyond the downtown core — while still looking for places where a piece would be properly appreciated.

 “When trying to find a place for public art, part of it is finding a place where pedestrians are,” said Micah McClure, vice chair of the public art commission.

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Hazelwood village fit the bill, but there wasn’t any where to put it — buildings tightly hug the sidewalks, and the sidewalks themselves are too narrow — except the public parking lot. It would mean giving up a couple spaces, however, a tough sell given Hazelwood’s parking crunch.

Now, with plans by the town to double the number of parking spaces, it’s a plausible sacrifice. The Plott hound sculpture will become the focal point for a mini town square with benches and street trees along the front edge of the parking lot.

“It will help bring more awareness and attention to Hazelwood,” McClure said.

As soon as the art commission gets final space parameters from the town, it will start the process of picking an artist, McClure said.

Artists will be invited to submit concept drawings and the finalists will be invited to make a formal presentation. 

The Plott hound traces its lineage to the Plott family, who settled in the area over 200 years ago, bringing with them a specially cultivated line of bear dogs from their native Germany. The Plott hound is the official state dog, and a roadside historical marker honoring the breed’s history lies a half-mile up the road where the Hazelwood gives way to the countryside of Plott Creek Valley.

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