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Posted on Sat. Apr. 19, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

'Helmholtz' ready to return to Fort Wayne Museum of Art

The sculpture was damaged in June by a driver charged with drunken driving

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The sometimes maligned “Helmholtz” sculpture is repaired and ready to return to Fort Wayne.

“They were able to fix it perfectly,” Charles A. Shepard III, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art's executive director, said of original artist Mark di Suvero and his staff.

The reddish-orange, abstract steel sculpture, which depicts a bull, could return home between mid-May and late June, Shepard said.

“We'd like to get it delivered and installed before the Three Rivers Festival,” he said.

If they can't arrange delivery and installation before the festival in mid-July, Shepard said the museum will wait until after the event because cranes and other equipment needed to install “Helmholtz” could pose a danger to festivalgoers.

The sculpture sustained significant damage June 16 when it was hit by a man later charged with drunken driving. His vehicle came through a portion of Freimann Square before crashing into the sculpture, which was located in a grassy area of the square next to the Arts United Center.

The art museum wanted di Suvero to repair the piece to preserve its artistic integrity and market value. The work, which has been part of the museum's collection since 1985, would have been valued at $1 million to $1.5 million before the damage, Shepard said previously.

The sculpture, which weighs 8 tons, stands about 26 feet tall and is constructed largely of I-beams, was taken apart in August and shipped by truck to di Suvero's studio in Petaluma, Calif., for repair.

When it will arrive here depends on how soon di Suvero's staff can take it apart, load it on a truck and drive it here, Shepard said. He should know more about its arrival date within the next two weeks.

Once here, “Helmholtz” will return to its location in Freimann Square beside the Arts United Center, he said. But there will be a few changes to prevent future damage.

The artist wants to attach it to the concrete pads on which it stands, Shepard said. The sculpture, which previously rested on the pads but wasn't attached to them, was moved by the crash impact.

The museum's insurance company also wants it to install a concrete bench or other barrier to prevent vehicles from hitting “Helmholtz,” Shepard said.

He agrees with installing a barrier, but getting one in place quickly could be a challenge.

In addition to arranging for its design and construction, the museum would need to find a way to pay for it, Shepard said. Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department also would have to approve any changes made to Freimann Square.

kkilbane@news-sentinel.com


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