Donors are chipping away at our newly announced Restore-a-Sculpture Campaign, which was initiated to preserve for the future Ann Weaver Norton’s nine monumental sculptures that are situated among our 1.7 acres of rare palms and tropical plants.
Conservation work began in early April, 2016 on Gateway #5, one of Ann’s most recognized works of art, the impressive 20-foot cantilevered, brick sculpture at the edge of the Reflection Pond.
Rosa Lowinger and Associates, a full-service conservation firm based in Miami, was hired to assess and submit a restoration plan for all nine sculptures, one stone and eight brick. A national leader in preservation and conservation of art, the Lowinger firm is known for their work at the Smithsonian Institution and Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, among others.
“These artworks are exhibiting biological growth and the general effects of their environment overall,” stated Kelly Ciociola, associate conservator at Rosa Lowinger and Associates. “We plan to get to the root of the deterioration and use materials that will hold up over time while maintaining the integrity of the pieces.”
Fees to restore each sculpture range from approximately $5,000 to $37,000 with conservation details that include cleaning the sculptures, addressing corrosion of exposed rebar, investigating areas of brick loss and instability, reinstalling bricks in their original locations, sourcing new bricks to match missing bricks, and/or patching any losses in the bricks with a conservation grade restoration mortar color.
Thanks to a major gift from ANSG Board of Trustee member, Leslie Rose, ANSG was able to kick off its Restore a Sculpture Campaign and begin work. We are pleased to announce that since then, three more sculptures have been adopted for conservation. The Gochman Family has generously committed to restoring Gateway #3, a mysterious work that resembles a medieval tower rising over a submerged portal, surrounded by ancient cycads. Next on the schedule will be Gateway #1, which recalls the Romanesque architecture of a long-abandoned church. Gateway #1 will be restored in honor of Frances and Jeffrey Fisher, whose significant support of key ANSG initiatives, coupled with Frances’ founding of the Gardens Conservancy, has been transformative for the organization.
In the Spring of 2017, Gateway to Knowledge was restored thanks to the generosity of the Gentlemen of the Garden. This is a replica of the original which stands in Harvard Square, as part of the Arts on the Line initiative where four works were selected which are currently on display both inside and outside Massachusetts Transit Authority station. The first to be completed was Ann Norton’s Gateway to Knowledge, completed in 1983. Comprised of handmade brick, the piece is a truncated obelisk, with two pillars representing knowledge and education, separated by a narrow slot. The entire piece, though massive at more than 20 feet tall, is able to convey mobility with one pillar placed slightly in front of the other.
The Restore-a-Sculpture Campaign will honor participants with naming rights at various levels. For more details on ways to assist the Sculpture Gardens in preserving these important works, please call Margaret Horgan, Director of Community Engagement, at 561-832-5328.
The Sculpture Gardens will remain open during this much needed preservation work. In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to observe and learn about this intricate process that integrates lessons in art, architecture, engineering, and construction. We look forward to scheduling a lecture by the conservationist in the near future.
As a young artist, Ann Vaughan Weaver left her native Alabama for New York City to study at the National Academy of Design, the Arts Student League of New York and Cooper Union. She studied with artists John Hovannes, Leon Kroll, Jose de Creeft, and was studio assistant to Alexander Archipenko. While in New York, Ann’s work was well received and she participated in group shows at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She was the recipient of two Carnegie Traveling Fellowships. This rising recognition in the art community led to her being recommended and hired in 1942 for a newly created sculpture teaching position at the Norton Gallery and School of Art, founded by retired Acme Steel president Ralph Hubbard Norton. With Ann’s knowledge and appreciation of art and music, she quickly became friends of Ralph and his wife, Elizabeth. Several years after Elizabeth’s death, Ralph encouraged Ann to marry him.
Despite their 30 years difference in age, Ann and Ralph built a relationship based on love as well as common aesthetic values, and after his death, she built her finest and most lasting work. Today, Ann Weaver Norton’s monolithic sculptures—in the spirit of Stonehenge, Henry Moore and Buddhist temple art—can be admired just behind the magical garden gates at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens.