The Courthouse Area Design Review Board gave approval Wednesday for Lexington's newest piece of public art to be installed on the roof of the Downtown Arts Center on East Main Street.
Artist DeWitt Godfrey's contemporary sculpture, Lex, consists of 17 steel cylinders that will be mounted on the roof and on the side of the center. It will be lighted at night.
Poage Engineers & Associates, one of two local consulting engineering firms on the project, determined that the roof has the structural integrity to support the 30-foot-tall sculpture and that Lex can withstand 100-year wind storms.
Nathan Zamarron, community arts manager for LexArts, said the steel will be treated with a material to prevent rust from bleeding onto the adjacent building.
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The board's vote was unanimous to approve the installation. Its consent was needed because the center is located within the Courthouse Area Design Zone.
Godfrey is an American sculptor best known for large abstract sculptures of banded steel in public sites. Lex is part of a series of tubular works the artist has created to be wedged between trees or buildings, said Jim Clark, president and CEO of LexArts, which commissioned the piece of art.
Cost of the sculpture and its installation will be $72,000. More than $40,000 has been raised, including a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Clark said he was confident enough that the remainder can be raised that he was going to contact Godfrey. The sculpture is expected to be in place by late March or early April.
Board member Harry Richart said after the meeting that one of his initial concerns was that the sculpture was to be mounted on a roof top, and would not be as easily seen as it would be if it were on ground level.
But the surprise element — people will have to look up to see Lex — will be one of its intriguing elements, Clark said. It can be viewed from across Main Street, from Phoenix Park and the CentrePointe block, he said.
Lex resulted from a Leadership Lexington project that put out a request on an international database for artists who do public art. Van Meter Pettit, a member of Leadership Lexington, said 126 artists responded, and a panel of community individuals winnowed the list to 14.
Those artists with examples of their art were presented at the 2010 Creative Cities Summit and at a Gallery Hop in June of that year, where the public could vote for its favorites. The top five were brought to Lexington, explored downtown on their own and each came up with a specific public art proposal for a site each artist selected.
Godfrey's won the nod for this first installation. As LexArts finds funding, the hope is the other four public art projects can be commissioned, Clark said.