Museum staff recently reinstalled the three graceful, gilded, 14-foot-long aluminum arcs in the lake adjacent to the building—just in time for the arrival of wintering flocks of cormorants that love to perch on the kinetic sculpture and circle above tasty, unsuspecting fish.
In fact, it was the strong talons of these large waterfowl that abraded the original gold leaf applied by the artist, Edward Lee Hendricks, in 1991 when the sculpture was new. After two decades of seasonal ornithological onslaught, all trace of the gilding was gone, and the golden color contrast with the silvery lake was lost.
Consequently, the museum developed a plan to restore the color by reapplying gold leaf—and adding an innovative new protective clear coating. McKay-Lodge Art Conservation of Oberlin, Ohio proposed and implemented the treatment.
Now viewers can appreciate the site-specific sculpture as the artist intended. The Museum commissioned Hendricks to make the art to link the Museum and its contents with the natural beauty of the park. He purposely sited this sculpture in this place to capitalize on the reflective lake surface, the tree line in the distance, and the wind.
The artist said he wanted to make sculptures that “give physical substance to the grace and power of the wind. Geometric elements of aluminum and stainless steel are carefully designed to maximize their response to the slightest breeze…. The interaction of these elements with wind and sunlight creates a visual counterpoint that is aesthetically satisfying on a very basic level.”
Hendricks’ kinetic sculptures respond beautifully to the forces of nature. With new gilding and a new protective coating, they should satisfy viewers, and cormorants, for years to come.
Restoration of the gold leaf on the arcs was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Michael W. Panhorst, Ph.D.
Curator of Art