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Public Art

I got this WTF text from my buddy Jed yesterday evening. This iteration of Bonneville Cutthroat were installed way back in 2009 at a busy intersection. The lead pair were knocked clean off, taking a hoop with them. The rear three are all intact, with the rear pole snapped off at the weld-line. The free-swimming pair were netted by a good citizen and are likely in police custody as evidence (thats where my Quail resided while charges were brought against his vandal kidnapper, years ago).
The sawzall did quick work, though I only had a few old blades and went through them both, and went through my freshly charged battery and onto the spare. Not enough charge or blade left to take the single hoop as well, but it isn’t much of a temptation for metal thieves, and I’ll come back for it.
Safely back in the shop by dusk.
This is a sheared weld that connected the sculpture to the stainless steel pipe.

The busy intersection the fish reside at has a street fully closed for construction, and so the turn lane adjacent to the sculpture is blocked off. E and I headed up to have a look, parking in the closed turn lane. One of two poles held the group of fish, the other having sheared at the weld line, and of the missing pair one pole still held a battered/torn hoop. Two cuts and it could all be gone. E worked her way along the City phone tree ’til we connected with the new director of the city’s arts council. She told me the accident happened Monday-ish, the missing fish were recovered by a witness to the accident. She has been waiting to call me, as there are many plates in the air on how to handle this one. I was concerned it would be easy pickings for metal thieves, and she gave me the green light to remove it. My pal Jed said he would help, as did my neighbor- who also offered up his work van, as it has a much lower gate than the truck and those fish are heavy. E watched his two kids and brought Nora over to his house (our week of storms was beginning and Nora has her issues with weather).

We parked the big van in the closed turn lane as Jed arrived. The group of three fish was my primary concern, and one pole needed to be cut away. I’d put a battery on the charger as soon as E & I had returned from our recon mission, by the time I had permission and a crew together it had charged and I snapped it onto the sawzall while popping on a used blade and bringing my spare (also used) and my second battery. And the most important tool that I can’t ever stress enough: Cestus Vibrex gloves (if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be able to type this). The first blade made it about half way before glowing red as its teeth smoothed off. The second blade nearly made it through before the battery was spent (a new blade would have taken off both posts on the one battery in half the time…). Not enough blade or battery to take off the remaining hoop, but it isn’t much of a temptation to thieves, and I’ll recover it soon enough.

It’s always surprising how heavy big heavy things are. We muscled the group of three fish and hoops into the back of the van, drove the few blocks home, and unloaded it into the shop. The guys went home and I called the arts director to let her know how we had faired. Just then there was knock at the door, and it was my neighbor and his young daughter with two police officers. The police had been flooded with calls from people waiting at the light as we pulled the piece, and a citizen had subtly followed us back home and given the police all the deets. This really cheered me up. I’ve had my work trashed 4 times now including my best and favorite work, Orpheus and Eurydice, stolen by metal thieves and shredded for scrap. This is the only time a sculpture has been damaged by accident. I handed the phone over to an officer and he spoke with the director briefly, and everything checked out.

I’ll recover the remaining hoop on my own today, and hold them all for the City while the process of how to proceed shakes itself out. (I used a new-to-me type of sawzall blade, $10 for a single blade; it took about 10 seconds to light-saber through the 2 inch stainless steel sch40 pole. Faster than a cutoff wheel.)

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The Great Horned Owl and Bald Eagle oversee the ribbon cutting ceremony.

All the stakeholders for the new nature center spoke eloquently with themes on the importance of establishing a relationship with the natural world through experience and education, and the optimism of an inspired pubic that acts as stewards and guardians through conservation. (click the website of the Eccles Nature Center)

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The eagle performs an air show to mark the occasion.

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Elizabeth dresses up the reflection.

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He walked right over to see me.

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Even though the eagle has his hood on, the Ibis is still wary.

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Once she made friends with the Ibis, an idea of a possible future sparked (see next image).

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Here she is again in the future, with one of her avian friends ( a young Western Screech Owl)

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Great Horned Owl.  Lots of wonderful critters from the Hogle Zoo and Hawkwatch, and plenty more flying around in the wild world of marshlands at the Nature Center.

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This is the view to the South East. There are water fowl and song birds everywhere, just not anywhere in the picture.

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From the front the Ibis is just a vertical bronze line (flanked by a circle), along the dry stream.

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At some point the line gives way to a curiosity of birdness.

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Just walking up from the marsh…

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I put the turn wheel in place and secured it’s tightening screw with locktight glue: ready for action.

 

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The corten steel wall and raw wood beam window complement the Ibis nicely. I took this shot from underneath a truck. The concrete drive was packed with vehicles and construction workers, as this is supposed to be the last week for construction.

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I hefted some boulders from a pile out in the parking lot and piled pebbles till the concrete base blinked out.

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He has tall orange stakes around him, taken out for the pictures- lets hope he stays out of traffic.

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He is at just a little angle to the concrete, which swings his wheel out just enough to discourage casual spinning, while allowing the magic vertical line view from the front as people descend down between the buildings. I’ll head back out when the site is finished and take more shots.

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Just wondering again where that concrete base went.

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That structure is a Blue Heron nesting complex, full of Blue Herons. On the water is a flock of White Pelicans.

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This marsh opens to Farmington Bay, and out to the Great Salt Lake. Antelope Island is in the distance. This is right along one of E & I’s bikerides- the bike trail comes all the way from Salt Lake City (ending in about a mile at the Lagoon amusement park), and runs along the boundary of the Nature Center. Guess we’ll be saddling up to visit the Ibis!

 

This morning the Ibis built its nest site out at the new Great Salt Lake Nature Center at Farmington Bay with a little help from my friend Jed and I.  Elizabeth imagines it must be quite a shock for the little guy after spending the past five and half months puttering around in the studio.

Under his feet I welded in large stainless steel anchor posts that rest on stainless steel angle stock (shown in December post). This stainless steel footing is immersed in a concrete footing.  A concrete filled posthole reinforced with rebar drops below the concrete form box, adding thousands of pounds of strength to the structure ( the post hole digger is in the image at the left). The angled boards brace the sculpture while the concrete cures. I will return on Wednesday and remove the bracing and form-box, affix the turn-wheel, take the protective wrapping off the legs, replace the stones under and around the feet, and give him a final wax & polish.

 

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Floodgate Closed.

Ready for New Years’ Eve now that the Ibis is complete. Patina went well and he is a nicely layered French Brown toning from reds to golds to chocolate. He wandered around the yard and I took pictures as he explored.

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Floodgate Open.

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“Back” side.

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Twinkle in his eye.

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Skinny front view.

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Waterfall Floodgate; would be a perfect addition to the yard.

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A heart of falling water.

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Wings folded along his back.

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Strolling about.

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Nesting area?

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Ibis Floodgate!

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Head sprouts overnight.

Last night’s snow squall convinced me to wait ’til things warmed up in the afternoon before rolling the shop door open for welding. 34 degrees and breezy was warm enough for the Ibis.

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Blending in the weld from bird to square tubing.

I laid it all flat on the table, and aligned the head/neck and tacked the neck in place then stood it up to double check. Then it was on to welding with the Argon tank showing empty, but hissing along for all the day’s welds. With the weld line finished, it was on to metal chase. Still some finessing left on that front, but well enough for today.

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This view offers the trademark curve of the Ibis bill.

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Chasing the sun.

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Skinny bird.

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Nora frisks about to ask if it can finally be walkie time, then waits impatiently as I snap off a few pictures after shutting things down.

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Gate skinned with bronze tubing.

Monday and Tuesday were spent welding the stainless watergate together, then adding the outside border of 1″ bronze tubing. Cutting the tubing from an 8′ length down to all the paired sets was a bit woozy for how close the math was vs. how expensive a mistake would be. Then I welded the pairs together, then welded them to the gate. Today I stood the legs up after welding on their anchor pins for installation, went back into the watergate to capture a slew of tweaks, then brought the gate together with the legs.

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1″ square tubing, doubled. The open ends will be resolved tomorrow.

 

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Before welding the legs to the gate, I weld in the anchor pins for basing and tack-weld the pins to a platform of stainless and wood.

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I used all the leftover parts from the watergate!

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From this side it levitates.

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Spent awhile putting a bevel on the top L edge (allows the backward bend of the neck) and welding the ends closed, then fixing pinch-points for little fingers, plus a few last structural overkills.

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The headless birdman.

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Narrow front view.

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Walking out the studio would be foolish funny bird; snowstorm out there.

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The “back” profile. Tomorrow is chasing the connective weld, and seeing if I run out of Argon gas while trying to fit the head.