Wednesday, June 23, 1999

Sculpture leaving Sixth and Vine


Plaza renovation forces move

BY PHILLIP PINA
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[sculpture]
A crew prepares to move 'Open End' Tuesday.
(Saed Hindash photo)
| ZOOM |
        “Open End,” a massive sculpture that stood in front of the Cincinnati Commerce Center at Sixth and Vine streets for the past 15 years, has been removed to make way for a $1 million renovation to a surrounding plaza.

        The piece, a geometric band made to appear as if it's floating above the building's plaza, was commissioned by the Linclay Corp. in 1984. It weighs more than 5 tons and stands 11 feet high, 35 feet long and 9 feet wide.

        While public art is an important part of creating a pleasing downtown environment, it was necessary to remove the sculpture to allow space for the improvements, said Rick Willowelt, vice president of Grubb & Ellis, the firm that manages the Commerce Center. He is not sure how the public will react to the removal of the sculpture.

        “What is it?” asked Aaron Deaton, who runs the Cincinnati Eats food cart at Sixth and Vine streets, of the sculpture.

        Mr. Deaton has worked the past week in the baking sun a few feet away from “Open End” and isn't sure what to make of it. With renovations that will add small fountains, new seating and more trees in the plaza, he doubts he will miss the sculpture.

        When the 30-story Commerce Center was being built, Linclay Corp., its developer, hired Australian-born artist Clement Meadmore. Linclay liked to commission original artwork to grace its projects. Mr. Meadmore saw the sculpture as a bridge between the scale of the pedestrians and that of the building.

        But it was for pedestrians that changes were required shortly after it was finished. The sculpture features sharp corners, which posed a risk to pedestrians, especially the blind, Mr. Willowelt said. So a small brick platform was built around it.

        When the building's owners decided to rebuild the plaza this summer, they opted to remove the sculpture to open up more space, Mr. Willowelt said. Commissioned at an original cost of about $100,000, it will be donated to St. Xavier High School in Finneytown.

        On Tuesday, The Fenton Rigging Co. used a 70-ton crane to hoist the sculpture onto a trailer. The piece will be reconditioned before being installed at St. Xavier later in the summer, said Bill Besl, vice president of Fenton Rigging and a St. Xavier alumnus. His company is donating its services to the project.

        The school will place “Open End” on a prominent spot on the North Bend Road side of its campus, said Principal David Mueller.

        The grassy setting will be a dramatic change from the urban, brick plaza downtown. But it will help students develop a better understanding of the arts, Mr. Mueller said.

        “It's a wonderful gift,” Mr. Mueller said. “It will stand with walkways all around it. People will be able to appreciate it.”

        While the sculpture was designed with the downtown setting in mind, Mr. Meadmore was happy to hear that his artwork will get a park-like setting, said Anita Shapolsky, who runs a New York City gallery in her name that exhibits Mr. Meadmore's work.

        But there are those who are sad to see it go.

        Mercene Karkadoulas, president of Karkadoulas Bronze Art, said “Open End” was an important part of downtown Cincinnati's collection of public art.

        “I hate to see it go,” she said. “We should be trying to preserve all that we can.”

        Yet her firm will help with the installation of the sculpture at St. Xavier, and she said the school provides an excellent setting for the artwork.

        Meanwhile, now that “Open End” has been removed, the renovation of the plaza that fronts the Commerce Center building will begin within days and should be completed by fall, Mr. Willowelt said.

       



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