The telescoping arm of a reach forklift Monday transferred the life-size bronze Seward Johnson sculptures from the back of a flatbed truck to their place on the historic Crown Point Courthouse Square.
The arm lifted the pieces, averaging between 300 and 400 pounds when depicting an individual and up to 900 pounds for one depicting two women and a bench, from the truck with ease. Once the forklift rolled into place on the street, the telescoping arm extended the statue to its assigned spot before public works staff slid the sculpture from its pallet and nudged it into place.
Eleven Seward Johnson sculptures are on loan to the city this year by the Seward Johnson Atelier Inc., the Hamilton, N.J., not-for-profit that facilitates public displays of the artist's work. The sculptures will be on display through September as part of what has become the city's annual summer public art display, spearheaded by the Interactive Art Project Committee.
This is the third year Crown Point has hosted a Seward Johnson exhibit. The effort is a public-private partnership between the Redevelopment Commission and the business community and community at large who sponsored the rental fees for each sculpture.
"They gave us an extra one because we are such good customers," said City Council memberwoman Carol Drasga, R-5th. Drasga chairs the art project committee that includes Council member Laura Sauerman, R-4th, and Kim Geisen. The full exhibit includes 11 pieces featuring 12 separate sculptures.
This year's exhibit also will feature the monumental sculpture, "The Tooth."
"Every year it is different," Drasga said.
Geisen said each year they get a little nervous wondering just how the exhibit will work, and if it will be as good as past efforts.
"It is as good as last year," Geisen said as the individual scenes started taking shape.
"The Tooth" never has been exhibited outside of the East Coast. The Crown Point exhibit will be the first time in decades the sculpture has left New Jersey, according to the Atelier's website. While the life-size statues are installed by the city's public works department, the monumental sculpture will be installed Wednesday and Thursday at the Sportsplex by experts from the Atelier.
Drasga said committee members thought "The Tooth" would be a fun monumental because it is provocative. The sculpture includes a man and a woman looking at the giant tooth.
"What those two figures express is what everybody who sees it is thinking," Drasga said. "It's a great little addition."
People are encouraged to submit photos of interactions with the statues and share them on social media for a chance at a prize. The Friends of the Crown Point Public Library also will be assisting with a search contest sponsored by the committee. Visitors use a guide to match clues to the various statues and return their answer sheets to the library.
It took about three hours to place the 11 exhibits, consisting of 12 separate statues, on display. That was about an hour or two less than it has taken the past two years when public works used a front-end loader and the strength of its staff to place the statues, said Scott Rediger, public works director.
"I figured there has got to be something easier than the loader," Rediger said, adding when he started looking into it he found the reach forklift at Illini Hi-Reach Inc., of Crown Point. "It is absolutely the way to go."