Florida Keys

For free: Giant artwork. Must have lots of room

This is ‘Fragments’ by Shiho Sato, statues among the Models to Monuments works being considered for relocation to various sites in Monroe County.
This is ‘Fragments’ by Shiho Sato, statues among the Models to Monuments works being considered for relocation to various sites in Monroe County.

Eight artworks of “monument” dimension may be had for the asking but only those in the Florida Keys with space to spare can qualify.

“They are big,” project backer John Padget said of “Models to Monuments” sculptures created by artists with the Art Students League of New York.

The outdoor works — including two towering metal sculptures 15 and 18 feet high, an open red pyramid, and two immense, shiny birds — have been on display in New York City’s Riverside Park South since last June. Now they need a new home.

While admiring the quarter-mile-long sculpture trail in Manhattan’s Riverside Park South, Jacob Dekker and Padget learned the “spectacular” exhibition must be removed in the coming months.

“We were so impressed, we thought: They’re going somewhere; why not the Keys?” Padget told Monroe County commissioners last week. The works “all have names, they all have stories.”

Dekker and Padget committed to a $79,000 donation to have the art disassembled and moved to the Keys, where it will be given away. Ideally, Padget said, the works will be displayed at public facilities or commercial property within viewing distance from U.S. 1.

Curators with the Art Students League want the sculptures to remain as a collection, even if that collection may run the length of the Keys. Initial efforts to find an open Keys location that can accommodate all eight of the sizable creations proved fruitless.

County commissioners, on a 4-1 vote, agreed to allow the county’s Art In Public Places Committee and Florida Keys Council of the Arts to help seek suitable local sites.

“Where in the world would you put this stuff before it gets donated out?” asked Commissioner Danny Kolhage.

“That’s probably the biggest challenge right now,” Arts Council Executive Director Elizabeth Young said. “We have no place in county government to store them.... They’re not going to leave New York unless we have a place to put them.”

Commissioners in their vote were saying yes to the idea but insisted the county will not spend money to store, install or maintain the sculptures.

Commissioner Sylvia Murphy voted against the motion, saying two of the works would be “out of place” in the Keys. She described the two as “disturbing” because of implied violence in their themes. “I don’t want kids on school buses driving by those twice a day,” Murphy said later.

Anyone accepting the artworks would be responsible for installation, permitting and maintenance. “We think there will be a high level of interest,” Padget said.

Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206

A link to the Art Students League of New York’s Year 6 monuments now displayed in Riverside Park South in Manhattan: https://www.theartstudentsleague.org/gallery/m2m-y-6/