A crane crew from Martin spent most of the workday Friday dismantling the Fort Wayne Museum of Art's damaged “Helmholtz” sculpture and carefully loading pieces onto a flatbed truck, starting its journey for repair.
The sculpture, made up largely of steel I-beams, will be taken to a secure site to await the arrival of professional art movers, who will transport the pieces to the Petaluma, Calif., studio of its creator, renowned sculpture artist Mark di Suvero, who will do the repairs, said Charles A. Shepard III, museum executive director.
“I think people can expect a joyous party when it is re-installed,” Shepard said of the work, which has been part of the museum's collection since 1985.
No city or tax dollars will be used to repair the sculpture, Shepard emphasized. The cost will be paid by the museum's insurance policy and by the insurance of the driver who crashed into it.
The sculpture, which weighs 8 tons, stands 21 feet tall and depicts a bull, suffered damage when Colton Adamonis, 23, of the 1900 block of Ardmore Avenue, drove his vehicle into it at about 2:20 a.m. June 16, police reported. The sculpture stood on the Freimann Square side of the Arts United Center, 303 E. Main St.
Police reported Adamonis had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit for driving of 0.08. He was arrested on drunken-driving charges, including endangerment, property damage and leaving the scene of an accident.
As of Friday morning, Adamonis was scheduled to have a hearing on the case at 8:30 a.m. Monday in Allen Superior Court.
Shepard said the museum doesn't have any idea how long it will take for “Helmholtz” to be repaired, or what it will cost. Before the damage, the sculpture probably would have been valued at about $1 million to $1.5 million, he said.
Having di Suvero make the repairs, however, helps ensure both the artistic integrity of the piece and its market value won't be compromised, Shepard said.
But complicating factors could make the repair process time-consuming.
First, di Suvero probably is the most famous living American sculptor, so he is extremely busy, Shepard said. Museum staff don't know how quickly he will work the “Helmholtz” repair into his schedule.
He is interested in the sculpture, though.
“He told me on the phone it is one of his favorite pieces he ever made,” Shepard said.
In addition, “When this was created, there was no CAD/CAM. There were no blueprints,” Shepard said.
So di Suvero will have to try to repair the damaged pieces of the sculpture. Then the artist will have to put the sculpture back together to see if it all fits and looks as he intended, Shepard said.
Once di Suvero is satisfied, the piece will have to be taken apart and shipped back to Fort Wayne, where it will need to be reassembled and repainted.
“I'm thinking we won't get this back before snow,” he said.
If that is the case, the museum might wait until spring to re-install “Helmholtz” at its present location, he added.
That work likely also will include installing aesthetically pleasing and viewing-friendly barriers, such as concrete benches, to protect the sculpture from future vehicle damage. But the museum definitely wants to continue showcasing “Helmholtz.”
“It is a world-class, famous piece, and we have it in our hometown,” Shepard said.