Van Wezel sculpture's future remains unclear

 

Van Wezel sculpture's future remains unclear

 

Date: October 17, 2013
by: David Conway | News Editor

 
 

Claus Moor’s sculpture, H-1540, is currently sitting outside of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Depending on whom you ask, you’ll receive different answers as to how it got there. One thing seems certain, though: By next year, it’ll be gone.

Moor’s statue first came to Sarasota as a part of the 2006-07 Season of Sculpture. Barbara Leifer, who lives in New York, served as the American representative for the German sculptor after his piece was shipped overseas.

Leifer said the statue remained in Sarasota because representatives with Season of Sculpture told her they would attempt to sell it. In the meantime, she said, it was placed on the Van Wezel property.
It stayed there until this June, when Leifer said the city told her they wanted the statue removed by Dec. 31. Leifer said she’s unclear how she and Moor will arrange a sale or get the sculpture out of Sarasota by that deadline.

“He’s left holding the bag on what to do with it,” Leifer said about Moor. “It’s quite costly to send a sculpture that large back to Germany.”

Clifford Smith, a senior planner with the city, said Moor requested the loan agreement after the Season of Sculpture concluded. The agreement, approved through the Public Art Committee in 2007, was last renewed for one year in February 2012.

This February, the Public Art Committee directed staff to ask Moor to either donate the sculpture to the Van Wezel or remove it from the property. Leifer responded by saying she would like to sell it.

As a result, the committee asked for the statue to be removed. According to Smith, the request was made because the last agreement was not returned with the artist’s signature. At no point, Smith said, did the city take possession of the sculpture, so it has no responsibility to assist in any return.

“It’d be the same as if you parked your car in the parking lot and we told you, ‘This is not city property,’” Smith said. “We’d need you to move your car.”

Susan McLeod, chairwoman of the Season of Sculpture board, said the organization recently agreed to attempt to sell the piece before the end of the year. She said Leifer’s claim that Season of Sculpture told her it would attempt to sell the sculpture after the 2006-07 season was inaccurate.

“When we bring a sculpture here as part of our exhibition, we contract with the artist for the season,” McLeod said.

Leifer said Moor received estimates around $10,000 to move the 2,000-pound Corten steel statue to Germany. Due to the costs, and the value she believes the sculpture has provided, Leifer thinks Moor should receive some financial assistance.

“In some respects, I think somebody at the city or Van Wezel should be responsible for helping him do that, if it were to be sent back,” Leifer said.

The loan agreements state the responsibility for handling the statue rests with the artist. Smith said he’d consult with city attorneys about the next step if the sculpture is not removed by the end of the year, but he hopes it won’t come to that.

“It’s been here a number of years on loan, and now the loan period is over, and we want to make sure they recover their property,” Smith said.

Contact David Conway at dconway@yourobserver.com

 

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