If you saw our “tour new Fire Station 37” story in the first few hours after we published it, you haven’t seen the postscript – one day after our tour, artist Pete Beeman – commissioned three years ago to create a sculpture for the site, under the city’s 1% for Art program – installed his work outside the station, along 35th SW. (Thanks yet again to Michael Oxman for sending a photo last night – we went back for our own a little while ago.) There’s little information about the sculpture online, so we e-mailed Beeman today to ask about its name, its inspiration, and even – as asked by a commenter – whether it has moving parts. He replied:
It is called “Lifter.” It has a crank at the bottom, which raises and lowers the polished arms.
There are a few concrete references to fire fighting equipment in the piece. The tower borrows its form from the “jaws of life” tool FFs use to open crunched car doors; the 5-sided nut shape around each shaft is borrowed from the 5-sided nut on fire hydrants.
Below is something I wrote about it when I was proposing the project. It is an abstract project, and I hope that people will bring their own visual vocabulary to it, project their own references onto it, but below are a few of the images that it kicks up for me.
“At times the sculpture looks a bit like a tree or an umbrella, metaphors for the sheltering, protective role the Fire Fighters play in a community. Other times it seems to be a bird form, a metaphor for the rising soaring hope that Fire Fighters provide a community in a crisis, whether it is helping maintain fire and health safety in daily life, or dealing with health and fire crises. It is heavy and mechanical, like much of the equipment standard to fire fighting, the moving tubes similar to a (unreachable) ladder at one point in their cycle. Finally, the image of the phoenix rising from the ashes of a fire comes to mind in its rising form, as its tubes are cranked all the way up. This is a perfect image or metaphor for the firefighters work, it is their work that breaks the crisis and allows people to recover, to move on.”
You can see more of Pete Beeman’s work here.