Twelve sculptures were gifted to Hartwood Acres Park in the 1980s, when it was first envisioned as an arts and culture park. A thirteenth sculpture was added years later. Now much-needed expert art conservation is nearly complete on this valuable collection, and the Sculpture Garden at Hartwood Acres is taking shape after several years of planning. When completed, the sculptures will be repositioned on new concrete foundations in cohesive groupings that will help visitors better appreciate their grandeur and significance. An additional sculpture is expected to be commissioned in 2021 for inclusion and placement in the collection. The Sculpture Garden will feature ADA-accessible walkways connecting the sculptures, new native landscape plantings and reconfigured driveways and parking areas, designed using principles of “green” design.
Rigging crew positions Tower Iron, Sculpture #5 (1967-8) by Joseph Goto in place.
The conservation of Ring Series #5 by sculptor Fletcher Benton is underway at McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory in Ohio. Part of the conservation process has been to design and construct a whole new anchoring system on the bottom of the piece so it can be reinstalled into a new foundation. Look for Ring Series #5 to be transported back to Hartwood Acres and permanently installed in its new location in early 2021.
The conservation of several sculptures caught the attention of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Conservator Teresa Duff of Lineage Historic Preservation Services, Sewickley, brought four sculptures back to life this summer in her outdoor “studio” at Hartwood. She worked on Monumental Holistic Image IV by Betty Gold; North Light by David von Schlegell; Stretch by Charles Ginnever; and Hence by Clement Meadmore. See what the Post-Gazette had to say about the conservation process.
An exciting feature of this re-imagined space will be the addition of a new commission. The Parks Foundation called artists to submit proposals for a large-scale piece to be added to this historic collection. The submission period is now closed but details are included here.
Large Escargot, a David Hayes steel piece erected in 1982 was among several sculptures conserved at the McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory in Ohio and was shipped back to Hartwood Acres. It is on permanent display on a new concrete pad on the Middle Road side of the park. Visitors are also encouraged to watch the emerging sculpture garden as it progresses on the Saxonburg Blvd. side of the park.
Conservator Teresa Duff of Lineage Historic Preservation Services, Sewickley, blasted off years of oxidation during the conservation of Stretch, a large-scale steel sculpture. She left the Corten Steel structure to weather in its natural state. Sculptor Charles Ginnever constructed this piece in 1980-81. The angular shape gives it both a two- and three-dimensional appearance depending on perspective and it can resemble two suspended viewfinders looking out over the park. This sculpture will be moved to a new location near the Mansion in 2021. Works by Ginnever, 1931-2019, appear in collections across the country.
The Sculpture Garden at Hartwood Acres took another step forward with the transformation of Large Snail, a realistic Carrara marble sculpture that has been on the grounds for about 40 years. It was carefully transported to its new exhibition site off the back terrace of the Mansion. Conservationist Marcin Pikus of McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory in Ohio set up shop on site to work his magic.
After cleaning the sculpture’s exterior, Pikus – moving at a snail’s pace – repaired a crack across the mollusk’s surface using marble chips and epoxy. The late sculptor Tillie Speyer, a native Pittsburgher, created it in 1965 and it is now welcoming a new era of visitors. Speyer was one of three women artists whose large-scale works are featured at Hartwood Acres.
The construction of the new Sculpture Garden at Hartwood Acres is busy with activity. The on-site conservation of two sculptures has been completed: Hence by Clement Meadmore, is located on the lawn in the proximity of the Mansion and Monumental Holistic Image IV by Betty Gold, is located along the Mansion’s access road off Saxonburg Blvd.
Taking advantage of the hot and dry August weather and the solid ground surface, a rigging crew eased a 14.5-ton sculpture onto its new resting spot in the Sculpture Garden at Hartwood Acres. Tower Iron, Sculpture #5 sat outside of the WQED headquarters in Oakland for many years until the Carnegie Museum of Art loaned it to Allegheny County in 2019. Its new location was selected and the new concrete pad was poured by Allegheny County. Now that it is in place near the Mansion, it’s open for visitors!
Two sculptures have been undergoing conservation in an open-air process that the public is welcome to stroll by and observe. Teresa Duff, a conservator from Lineage Historic Preservation Services of Sewickley, has been performing this essential step in preparing the sculptures for their “new look.” The sculptures are Hence by Clement Meadmore, located on the lawn in the proximity of the Mansion, and Monumental Holistic Image IV by Betty Gold, which is located along the Mansion’s access road off Middle Road.
Duff oversaw the erection of scaffolding and tenting to provide her full access to all angles of the pieces. Each will be sanded first to remove existing paint and oxidation. She will prime them and apply paint in colors that match the original specifications of both sculptors. Once she has completed the painting, which, weather pending, should take her through the beginning of July, the scaffolding will be dismantled and all paint residue will be removed from the site.
The Allegheny County Parks Foundation has also engaged Duff in the conservation of two more sculptures, Stretch by Charles Ginnever and North Light by David von Schlegell. Look for work to begin on these this summer. The Parks Foundation and Allegheny County are partners in this exciting project.
McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory of Ohio has been conserving large scale public art since 1989. In 2019, six sculptures from Hartwood Acres Park were carefully rigged and transported there for conservation. Their work was already underway when COVID-19 forced them to stop. But before that happened they were able to make some progress. Will Durbin, a conservation assistant pressure-washing Rings Series #5 by Fletcher Benton was surprised to find deserted bird nests inside the sculpture. After cleaning, technicians will perform a micro-abrasion process on the surface to remove rust and scale. They are also planning to make structural repairs and replace corroded elements. Finally, they will apply paint. It’s a three-step process: base primer, epoxy primer and the top, color coat.
The sculpture Mobius Trip X dates back to the 1980s and was showing expected signs of aging. Following conservation at the McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory of Ohio, it has a new lease on life and is back to its original vibrant blue. Work on the site of this Hartwood Acres project began again in preparation for the eventual return of the sculptures as soon as the pandemic restrictions on outdoor construction work were lifted. Park visitors will have the opportunity to watch a conservator at work on site beginning June 12, weather permitting. Conservator Teresa Duff of Lineage Historic Preservation, Sewickley will be prepping and painting two sculptures – Monumental Holistic Image IV by Betty Gold and Hence by Clement Meadmore – and visitors will be able to watch her from a safe distance.
The massive sculpture that has graced WQED’s headquarters on Fifth Avenue for 50 years is getting a new home. Tower Iron, Sculpture #5 (1967-8) by Joseph Goto was on long-term loan from Carnegie Museum of Art, which is now making a long-term loan to Allegheny County for placement in the Sculpture Garden at Hartwood Acres.
The sculpture was moved recently and will remain in storage until ground conditions permit its placement on a new pad below the Hartwood Acres Park visitor parking lot. This piece is of the same time period and genre as the original sculpture collection and is a significant addition to the Sculpture Garden at Hartwood Acres.
Allegheny County, Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Pittsburgh Office of Public Art
Allegheny County, Allegheny Foundation, Charity Randall Foundation, Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania, Fine Foundation, Fox Chapel Garden Club, The Garden Club of Allegheny County, a member of The Garden Club of America, Hillman Foundation, Opportunity Fund, PNC Charitable Trusts, and generous individuals
The Sculpture Garden at Hartwood Acres is made possible in part by the RADical ImPAct Grant program, which was launched in celebration of the Allegheny Regional Asset District’s 25th anniversary with the intention of funding bold, forward-looking, creative projects that will have a radical impact on the region.