Will Work for Smiles

Gallery 435 Reveals Wireman’s Mysterious Backstory

Scott Deutsch (left) and Felipe Botero
Portrait by Rimas Zailskas

For more than a year, people have thronged to Church Street in downtown Hendersonville to behold “Wireman,” a 10-foot-tall, 800-pound metal sculpture slumped in the entrance of an alleyway. But the origin story of this spectacular work of art has been shrouded in mystery. It showed up in the middle of the night, casually leaning against a corner wall at Gallery 435, as if it had lived there all along. 

Scott Deutsch, the gallery’s self-proclaimed “Director of Happiness,” established the gallery on behalf of an anonymous philanthropic family foundation. He explains, “They own lots of art, and Wireman was previously displayed on private property, but they wanted to share the sculpture with the public. So, it was moved here by crane, without announcement, even before we opened the gallery. Although there have been offers, Wireman is not for sale — it’s a feel-good piece, put here just to make people smile and give them enjoyment.”

Wireman was originally unveiled by the international art fair Art Basel, at its exhibits in Basel, Switzerland; Hong Kong; and Miami. After the Miami show, it was acquired by the foundation and eventually moved to Hendersonville. Throughout the year, Wireman appears at daybreak dressed specially for the occasion: the NC Apple Festival, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter prom night. Last Mother’s Day, Wireman was transformed into a pregnant mom, to rave reviews. 

Felipe Botero, a native of Colombia and former telenovela and film actor who is now a cast member at Hendersonville Theatre, introduces himself as Director of Laughter and Actor for Gallery 435. He creates the custom outfits which cost as much as $1,000 each and dresses the sculpture at night, so that they’re revealed as a surprise. 

Botero admits the gallery loses money on the outfits — but says that the return on investment is seeing people from all over enjoying the sculpture.

Gallery 435 also breaks even or loses money on its selection of new and vintage furniture, lamps, accessories, and eclectic mix of art from Cuba, Brazil, Uruguay, India, Italy, Colombia, and elsewhere. Gallery visitors are treated to free drinks and snacks. On Father’s Day, without announcing it, Gallery 435 gave every father who walked through the door a multitool keychain.

Says the Director of Happiness, “You can buy great art for just 50 or 100 dollars [here], and we don’t make a profit. But the foundation wants this to be a kind of community center where people have more affordable access to fine art.” Gallery 435 also plans a mural-creation project, Church Street Walls. 

“We have an alley the city’s allowing us to use, and young people will submit samples of their art. We’ll offer 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-place cash prizes, and the winners will be invited to paint murals. Every three months we’ll do it again. 

“Some youth face challenges in life and lack resources,” he adds. “They may not believe in themselves and their talent. But if you give them this kind of opportunity through the making of art to express themselves and show their talent, it gives them self-confidence and a voice, and they realize they can be successful.”

Gallery 435 , 435 Church St., Hendersonville, 828-489-6913. Follow Wireman on Instagram (@giantwireman). Also see Gallery 435 (Hendersonville) and Wireman on Facebook. 

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