Sunday, July 15, 2001

Art lovers: Grime a crime




By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        They took cloths and wiped away two decades of dirt and grime.

        For much of the morning and into the afternoon Saturday, four volunteers brought something of the sheen back to “Westward,” a contemporary sculpture by David Von Schlegell that has graced the lawn of Yeatman's Cove Park since 1980.

        “It needs to be maintained,” said Patrick Mills, pointing to creases along the base of the sculpture where rust had set in, welding seams were separating and silicon was missing.

        Mr. Mills is a graduate student in the master's of fine art program at the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

        He and a group of other students and graduates three weeks ago began cleaning and repairing Cincinnati's public sculptures after a conference in Pittsburghshowed them that city's well-maintained art.

        “We were amazed at that city's commitment to having public sculpture and maintaining it,” he said. “It made us curious about what public sculpture there was in Cincinnati.”

        Mr. Mills pointed out that some of Cincinnati's public art has disappeared, headed for the suburbs.

        “Cincinnati Story,” one of 30 large outdoor pieces by George Sugarman, was dismantled from its home in front of the Chiquita Center at Fifth and Sycamore streets last year and moved to Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Butler County.

        “Open End” left its downtown home for 15 years when it was donated in 1999 to St. Xavier High School in Springfield Township.

        And “Metrobot” by Nam June Paik stands in front of the Contemporary Arts Center on Fifth Street “in terrible shape,” Mr. Mills said.

        Its neon lights don't work, its clock is stuck, the message board doesn't have messages, its surface has been scratched with graffiti. The group would like to take on that sculpture next. But it will take money as well as elbow grease.

        “To restore it would take a month to do,” said Mr. Mills.

        Mr. Mills and UC graduates Corey Jefferson and Richard Fruth said it was an honor to help repair the artwork.

        “What better way to see great sculpture than in the heart of the city?” asked Mr. Fruth.

        For more information, call UC's school of art, 556-2962.

       

       



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