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Park Adds NBMAA Sculptures

If you have walked around Walnut Hill Park lately you may notice two new sculptures have been relocated around the loop.

As the New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) starts its expansion, it found it had nowhere to put Chaim Gross’s “The Juggler” (1975) and Tom Doyle’s “Lunasa” (2006) sculptures.

“The City is allowing them to be in the loop. City staff relocated them in the loop and the museum has accepted all liability,” said Mark Moriarty, public works director. “We do want to have more art. They (NBMAA) have a number of art pieces in storage and access to other pieces. They are running out of room to store them.”

So the City and the NBMAA have agreed to a trial of putting the sculptures around New Britain to see how residents feel about them.

“They are in close proximity to the museum. They look great and we will do something special around the base. They are great additions to the loop,” said Moriarty. “We are trying to partner with the museum on more and more things. This is just one of them.”

The City is looking for a sculpture to put outside the police station. That sculpture could have cost the City $100,000 or more. But, if all works well with the museum, the City may get an appropriate piece of artwork at little cost.

“We need to find an artist who will let us put their work there at no cost or minimal cost,” said Moriarty. “A lot of artists have work in storage they would like to showcase.”

Moriarty said this partnership will increase the level of public art around the City without using funds.

A bike program is in the works between the City and the museum in the future as well.

“We want to help the museum out and add new features,” said Moriarty.

“Lunasa” is made of oak and cherry. Doyle became interested in sculpture after working in a blacksmith’s shop and taking a mechanical arts class in high school. Doyle draws in abstract expressionism using various sources. He aims to uncover methods of defying gravity and space by making heavy objects appear weightless as if they are floating without support. “Lunasa” is meant to create an interactive space that the viewer is encouraged to not only view, but also experience by walking though and around it.

“The artist makes his work from trees that have been taken down in city streets,” said Moriarty. “He will take the trees that had to come down and make a sculpture out of them.”

“Lunasa” is named after the ancient Celtic harvest festival Lughnasadh that honored the Irish God Lugh.

“The Juggler” was created as a quarter of Gross’s works constitute circus performers. Gross who lived from 1904-91 was a young Jewish refugee in World War I. He said the ‘magic circus’ would come to his home in Australia once a year to provide a bright spot in his somber childhood.

The piece is made of bronze and is a whimsical instant suspended in time to capture magic.with elongated limbs reaching out to cradle the motion of the rings. It is meant to not only capture the wonder of childhood, but the affirmation of Chaim’s belief in the possibility of peace.

Both pieces can be found at the bottom of the loop closest to the area of the museum on Lexington St.