Sculpture Redo Doubles in Cost

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When the confusion cleared about what was being proposed, the City Council decided that the “Sunbathers” metal sculpture will be repositioned at Nita Carmen Park and completely recast in stainless steel at triple the original estimate.

Ray Jovee and his terrier Whiplash visit Nita Carmen Park daily. In January, Jovee was considering restoring the sculpture himself. Photo by Andrea Adelson.
Ray Jovee and his terrier Whiplash visit Nita Carmen Park daily. In January, Jovee was considering restoring the sculpture himself. Photo by Andrea Adelson.

Everyone on the dais and in the audience admitted they were confused by too many proposed solutions Tuesday, April 26.

Were the “Sunbathers,” the somewhat-life-size metal sculptures of a man gawking at a bikini-clad sunbathing woman, going to be completely redone rather than just repaired as originally discussed? Were they taking new positions or sharing a pedestal? And if there were changes, what were the exact costs and why were they tripling?

Mayor Steve Dicterow asked Sian Poeschl, the city’s cultural arts manager, to clarify. She explained that the confusion came from a mix of reports: a more elaborate plan from the sculptures’ creator Leonard Glasser, the city’s Arts Commission’s concerns and a compromising approach from city staff. And all of it involved higher costs.

The council ultimately and unanimously went for Poeschl’s compilation of choices at a cost of $21,000. Council member Rob Zur Schmiede was absent.

“The Two Figures,” artist Leonard Glasser’s original name for the sculptures, will be completely redone in ¼”-gauge stainless steel, which is more weather- and dirt-resistant, as Glasser requested. The artist thought he could purchase the material for $7,200, but found it now cost $17,000. “I was using 1982 prices,” he said later.

The flat, metal sculptures will now share a cement pedestal as recommended by Glasser, which will be placed away from trees and their debris. The woman will not sit up, as Glasser wanted, but will remain on her stomach, like the original sculpture. Neighbors call the sculptures the “Sunbathers,” which have been hanging around the small corner park for 33 years. Glasser said he’s willing to let the name stick.

A tree that Glasser wanted removed because it dropped debris on the sculptures will remain, the council agreed.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, so now we’ve gone from the original cost at the last meeting of $7,200 and now we’ve gone up to $15,300?” council member Kelly Boyd inquired about the cost confusion. The thicker-gauge steel, reworking the base of the sculptures and moving the pieces as well as removing the old concrete pads added to the total price, according to Poeschl and Glasser.

Earlier this year, the Arts Commission recommended junking the weathered sculptures, saying the cost of upkeep and repairs was too great. But neighbors and art lovers protested to keep “Sunbathers” reposing on the shady knoll and popular dog-walking park.

A bigger concrete base, estimated at $5,000, that will hold both pieces was donated along with another $1,000. The remainder of the money will come from the Arts Commission’s art maintenance and special projects funds.

Council member Toni Iseman volunteered to have a bikini-party fundraiser earlier but bowed out due to increased costs that were now covered by other resources.


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