Top of the Mandala In August of 2002 the 5000 Flowers Committee was faced with a challenge: where to install a metal sculpture that towered twelve feet tall and six feet wide. Artist Tamera Mulanix had created the piece, a Mandala representing peace, and very much wanted it to be a part of the 5000 Flowers Exhibit which occurred in over 20 venues in Carrboro and Chapel Hill, commemorating the victims of September 11th.

After some discussion it was decided that, with the permission of the Town of Carrboro, the sculpture would be placed in front of Town Hall in the bricked circle which is typically only used in December for a metal Christmas tree.

"The Mandala symbolizes unity and acceptance," says Tamera. "The nine points surround the core, representing the different paths of the worlds religions, all of which come from the same spiritual source. When contemplated upon, the Mandala is thought to have healing powers. Gaze at this symbol with the hope of healing your heart and thus help bring peace to our world."

In early September, 2002, Tamera and her husband Vernon, with the help of Carrboro Public Works employees and Director Chris Peterson, installed the Mandala. The general consensus was that the piece had found a perfect home. The town arranged to buy the Mandala and leave it in the spot permanently.

Vernon (adjusting the mandala) and Tamera Mulanix install the Mandala with the help of Carrboro Public Works employees. North Carolina Governor Mike Easley put an end to that transaction by slashing the funds of local governments, withholding much needed sales tax revenue in order to balance the state budget in 2002. The day they were leaving to go on vacation, Tamera received a phone call telling her the deal was off.

"It broke my heart," says Mulanix, a metal artist who resides in rural Chatham County. "The piece was just so perfect for that spot."

Mulanix grew up in Grand Blanc, Michigan, a tomboy who comes from a family of welders and was always fascinated by the process. After honing her craft as a department store display designer, Tamera met her soul mate, Vernon, and together they escaped the rigors of city life by moving to Pittsboro, NC. She studied welding and blacksmithing with John Amaro at CCCC for about a year, then continued learning on her own and taking classes. Mulanix has a passion for taking rusty scrap metal and turning it into art.

Tamera wasn't the only person who was sorry to see the Mandala go. She was nice enough to let it remain in the spot until Christmas, when the metal Christmas tree was put up for the holidays. When Art Committee members learned of the removal of the Mandala, they were quite distressed. They had discussed the possibility of putting a sculpture in that spot for years. To have it and then lose it was a very unhappy turn of events.

Tamera Mulanix stands beside the mandala after the second installation of the piece.It was a stroke of luck when Tamera brought her work to the Carrboro Learning Place and Art Gallery to display in an exhibit in April of 2003. When Mulanix related her tale of woe to Art Committee member Jackie Helvey-Hayes at the exhibit opening, Jackie promised she would see what she could do to raise the funds necessary to put the Mandala of peace back on its perch at Town Hall.

Given the current economic climate, raising money to buy art is no easy task. With many businesses and individuals struggling just to make ends meet, it seemed unlikely that such a generous donor would be found.

A few months later Helvey-Hayes, who was a member of the 5000 Flowers Committee and had worked with Tamera on the coordinating the initial installation of the piece, received a phone call from Art Committee Chairperson Catherine DeVine. The Art Committee coffers had been stripped the year before, but now there was money in the coffers, and DeVine had the perfect idea how to spend it.

"We should buy a piece of art," said Catherine.

"What a great idea!" replied Helvey-Hayes. "I know the perfect piece."

The problem became the price. When Jackie called Tamera to check on the price of the piece, she learned it was more than the Art Committee had. Mulanix knew that the Mandala belonged in that spot though, and on hearing the amount available to purchase the piece, immediately agreed to negotiate on the price.

"It was the right thing to do," said Tamera.

On June 10 Carrboro Mayor Mike Nelson put forth a resolution to purchase the Mandala to the Board of Alderman. The Board unanimously agreed. On Friday, June 27, 2003, the Mandala was returned to its original location in front of Carrboro Town Hall. This time it's here to stay, home at last.

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