photographs by Nick Pironio
In 1959, when Capitol Broadcasting Company founder A.J. Fletcher opened a lush and expansive azalea garden to the public on five West Raleigh acres surrounding WRAL-TV studios, he said he did it to pay “a tribute to beauty for beauty’s sake.” Today his grandson, CBC president and CEO Jim Goodmon, is filling the newly expanded headquarters surrounded by that garden with contemporary art. It’s a tribute of his own: to the artists of North Carolina, and to his employees.
In a new, sleek, light-dazzled addition designed by Chapel Hill architect Philip Szostak, dozens of works – including textiles, sculpture, installations, and paintings – bring color and culture to the 325 employees who work there. It’s a busy place – serving as home to WRAL-TV, Fox 50, WILM-TV, WRAL-FM, 99.9 The Fan, and CBC New Media Group – but so aesthetically refined, and with art so plentiful and surprising, that a visitor might miss the bustle for the beauty.
The people who work there say it’s rubbed off on them. “It puts people in a better mood,” says facilities coordinator Chris Coles, who has worked at Capitol Broadcasting for 17 years. “I didn’t think I really liked contemporary art, but now I do.”
That was part of the goal, says Contemporary Art Museum foundation director Marjorie Hodges, who helped Goodmon curate the collection together with Flanders Gallery owner Kelly McChesney, CBC community relations director Loretta Harper-Arnold, and architect Szostak.
Not only did the group seek out top North Carolina artists, they made it a point “to find works that stimulate conversation and create interest,” Hodges says.
Each piece was chosen for a particular spot in the building, and some were commissioned. “Our goal was to make a beautiful place to work,” says Szostak, who calls the new building his own best work.