Copyright 1999 The Hartford Courant Company

July 27, 1999 Tuesday, STATEWIDE


LENGTH: 507 words


BYLINE: DAN UHLINGER; Courant Staff Writer

David Hayes scowls when asked how many sculptures he has created.

The question is meaningless. Art is not something to be counted like widgets.

But Hayes, whose work is found throughout the country and abroad, labors in a "studio" where metal clashes against metal, where beads of sweat splash on steel and workers stamp numbers on manufactured products in assembly line fashion.

In the sweltering heat of a South Windsor metal-fabricating plant, the Coventry artist puts the final touches of black paint on his newest creation, before it is packed in plastic bubble wrap and shipped by truck to a developer's Staten Island, N.Y., office building.

The commissioned piece is called "Hanging Sculpture, Screen Sea Forms" and is part of his "Screen Sculpture" series begun in 1976. It will be unveiled in September during a ceremony marking completion of the building project.

The series is a Renaissance concept, using sculpture to enliven modern buildings and public places coldly conceived with surgical precision and devoid of human touch and passion.

The "Hanging Sculpture" is an 8- by 8- foot creation of various steel plates cut into aquatic life forms and welded together. Formed from cardboard templates, the eighth-inch-thick steel figures are arranged so there is also an interplay between the solid and the void.

Hayes has a fascination for the intermingling of nature and brute matter, an image seen in much of his work.

"The vocabulary of forms that comprise [my] sculptures is enriched by discoveries that I find in nature," he says.

Hayes' painted, bolted and welded steelworks have been exhibited and collected around the world.

Hayes' work is currently displayed in permanent exhibition outside the Hartford Library, the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, at Gund Hall at Harvard University, and in major museums and private collections. His sculptures have also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.

Hayes was born in Hartford and received a degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1953. While completing another degree at Indiana University in 1955, he worked with American master artist David Smith.

He has received a post-doctoral Fulbright award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

Hayes also serves as a regent at the University of Hartford.

Richard Nicotra, a developer of hotel and office buildings, chose Hayes from among five artists to create the sculpture for his Staten Island headquarters.

Nicotra, who has a $2 million budget for art, would not disclose how much he is paying Hayes for his latest creation but says it is the main piece in the building.

The sculpture will be suspended by two stainless steel cables from a 23-foot ceiling. It will hang in front of a 30-foot-long wall of imported Italian onyx.

"I wanted a dramatic piece for the entrance to my new building," Nicotra says.



GRAPHIC: PHOTOS: (2 B&W), STEPHEN DUNN / THE HARTFORD COURANT; PHOTO: DAVID HAYES PONDERS his latest work, "Hanging Sculpture, Screen Sea Forms," at his studio in South Windsor. The work was created for the Nicotra Group Office Building on Staten Island, N.Y.; PHOTO 2: DAVID HAYES is an internationally known sculptor from Coventry.