Arts Art and the Wind
posted by October 18 at 18:50 PMon
Just days after the scaffolding came off of a four-story abstract sculpture outside the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, its top was blown off in a windstorm at about 2:35 pm today.
“It was a big gust that came along and blew off a portion of the top of it,” said center spokeswoman Christi Loso.
No one was hurt, she said. A broad area has been cordoned off around the sculpture, and a shuttle bus rerouted to protect people should any more of the sculpture collapse.
Here’s a rendering by the artist, Portland-based Ed Carpenter, of the lattice of aluminum, glass, and steel, called Vessel:
Carpenter has been notified about the incident, but no decisions have been made about the future of the sculpture, Loso said. The structure was completed, but the installation had about a month’s worth of work left on it, she said, mostly in finishing the base and landscaping.
A scientist who formerly worked at the center, and who is remaining anonymous, is paying for the artwork. Loso said the center’s official figure to describe the sculpture’s worth is $500,000, but she couldn’t say for sure whether that referred to an estimated value or the budget of the commission.
Obviously, the sculpture, which was selected in a competition process last year, will have to be reengineered and maybe, redesigned.
It reminds me of one of the works by a star of Documenta 12 this summer in Kassel, Germany. It was a piece by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, a massive majestic assemblage of antique doors formed together to create an architectural scale arch that people could stand under.
But when I was there, two-and-a-half months after the opening, I didn’t see that. I saw this:
Organizers of the exhibition passed it off as a fortuitous accident, adding meaning to the piece. Buh. This photograph was taken from the one good remaining angle, the one dramatic viewpoint where chaos still looks meaningfully formed. From every other perspective around the sculpture, the ugly, jagged edges of beautiful doors forever destroyed stuck out of a sorry trash pile. The artist’s monument to the life of old culture in rapidly developing China instead joined in the killing, because of sloppy engineering.
I’m not necessarily opposed to the potential of destruction in art. Several years ago, I advocated that Seattle artist Iole Alessandrini’s gorgeous, several-block-long installation of light in the dark heart of downtown Tacoma shouldn’t be restored after it was damaged in a windstorm weeks before it was supposed to come down.
That piece, called Season of Light, was intended to be temporary, and the ruthless instead of planned ending seemed perfect in the context of an urban block that had become blighted because of the cruel whims—we’re interested, tear the historic buildings down, no, nevermind—of a couple of Seattle developers (one of whom, Paul Schell, later became Seattle’s mayor).
Art and people are never safe in windstorms.
(Thanks for the tip, Anne S.)