Some pieces of exterior public art in Gulfport’s Clymer Park have withstood weather events and public interaction better than others since the formal dedication ceremony occurred on March 28, 2015, said City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
“Periodically, we’ve had to do some basic maintenance on some pieces,” he said.
But, one piece in particular created by Jonathan Schork has required “extensive” repair work, said O’Reilly.
The park borders Gulfport Boulevard South to its north and 26th Avenue South to its south. The three-block park is bordered on its east and west sides by the two one-way sections of Beach Boulevard.
Entitled “For the children of astrios & eos iii: horn section,” Schork’s peice in the northern part of the park towers over a paved pedestrian sidewalk area and resembles a white tree trunk with three branches that narrow to slender points. The plaque at its base says the materials used to create it include “fiberglass-over-steel, aluminum, LED lighting.”
A photograph in the city’s press release about the ceremony shows two branch tips with multiple heavy tubes hanging down from dome-like holders. The coloring of each tube resembles the gay pride flag, though no mention of this comparison is made on the identification plaque or in the press release.
“A combination of time, materials and people interacting with it in an inappropriate way,” has left the branches bare, said O’Reilly.
During past municipal budget discussions, members of the public and council have discussed the need for repairs to the artwork and this year, Councilmember Dan Liedtke asked the city staff to look into it.
Schork’s “tree” was prioritized, said O’Reilly.
At first, city staff affected a repair that consisted of more lightweight and therefore practical vertical elements that consisted of flexible fabric strips colored a patriotic red-white-and-blue.
“They should have been more cognizant about the coloring of the original [elements] and their importance to the community,” said O’Reilly.
More research led to close examination of a period photograph and the decision was made to order lightweight aluminum tubes that city staff would then paint to closely replicate the artist’s original look, he said.
Recently, rainbow-colored aluminum tubes with dome caps were installed on all three branches.
The park’s artwork was commissioned during the 2013 fiscal year as part of a $100,000 project, said O’Reilly.
Any artwork purchased by the city is considered a one-time expense and does not include multi-year maintenance by artists, he said.
Two of the original artists who received commissions from the city and who still live locally voluntarily do touch ups to their artwork, when needed, said O’Reilly. Otherwise, it’s the city’s responsibility to do basic maintenance or more extensive repairs and “we’re going to do our best to recreate it,” he said.