Fort Pierce's City Hall atrium to house works of world-renowned abstract artist

By Tyler Treadway staff writer
Fort Pierce Tribune
July 25, 2004

FORT PIERCE - Over the next few weeks, City Hall will become the Treasure Coast's newest art museum.

By late August, 25 to 30 sculptures by world-renowned artist David Hayes will be in the building's three-story atrium as part of a collaborative effort by the city and the St. Lucie County Cultural Affairs Council.

After a short stay at City Hall, the sculptures - all of them abstracts made of welded pieces of black steel - will be distributed throughout downtown for a one-year outdoor exhibit.

Jon Ward, director of the Cultural Affairs Council, hopes this will be the first of a series of sculpture exhibitions held every two or three years.

"The idea is to bring in lots of pieces by one artist for like a big, outdoor, one-man show," he said.

The first three sculptures arrived at City Hall last week, and more are scheduled to arrive Monday afternoon.

"By mid- to late August we should have them all in place," Ward said. "We'll basically turn City Hall into an art gallery."

Hayes will come sometime in September for "a gallery-style opening" and public reception.

Fort Pierce Development Director Ramon Trias said likely locations include Marina Square waterfront plaza on Melody Lane, the Lincoln Park Farmers Market on Avenue D, the west side of City Hall facing U.S. 1 and several roundabouts.

"Many of these projects were designed to be high- quality settings for public art," he said.

Ward described Hayes' work as "free-form, naturalistic steel sculptures. Some people will love it, and some people won't. I'm perfectly prepared for people to say, 'I could do that in my garage.'"

Even Trias wasn't crazy about the sculptures - at first.

"My first impression was that (Hayes') work is quite challenging, because it's so minimalist and abstract," he said. "A lot of peoples' reactions are going to be: 'What is this?' And about the only answer you can give is: 'It's art.'"

And if viewers aren't convinced?

"That's the beauty of temporary exhibits," Trias said. "If you don't like this artist, we'll have another one later."

The $42,000 cost of the project is being split evenly by the city and county through their respective Art in Public Places programs, which are funded by fees attached to capital construction projects.


David Hayes

Born in Hartford, Conn., Hayes earned an associate degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1953 and a master of fine arts degree from Indiana University in 1955. He also has received a post-doctoral Fulbright award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

He has had more than 300 exhibitions and is included in more than 100 major museums and collections, including that of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

He lives and works in Coventry, Conn.