Donors are chipping away at the newly announced Restore-a-Sculpture Campaign at Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens. Conservation work has begun on Gateway #5, the first of artist Ann Weaver Norton’s nine monumental sculptures to be restored.
Thanks to a major gift from ANSG Board of Trustee member, Leslie Rose, the nonprofit organization was able to kick off its Restore a Sculpture Campaign and begin work in early April on one of Ann’s most recognized monumental brick sculptures, the impressive 20-foot cantilevered Gateway # 5, which sits boldly among the towering palms at the edge of the Reflection Pond.
Since that effort was initiated, two 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.
“We are very grateful for the generosity of these supporters as they have enabled us to move forward on this critical art conservation effort,” stated Karen Steele, executive director at Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens. “As stewards of Ann Norton’s life work and historic property, we are fulfilling her mission and vision of preserving the Gardens for the enjoyment of the community. We look forward to securing more gifts for the Restore-a-Sculpture Campaign, allowing us to continue work on all of Ann’s monumental sculptures.”
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.
According to Steele, ANSG has hired Rosa Lowinger and Associates to preserve and restore nine of Norton’s monumental sculptures, one stone and eight brick, situated among the palms and native plants of the Gardens’ tropical 1.7 acres. The full-service conservation firm is a national leader in preservation and conservation of art and 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.
“The Sculpture Gardens will remain open as we begin this much needed preservation work,” continued Steele. “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.”
The historic Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, Inc. is a nonprofit organization established in 1977 by the prominent sculptor Ann Weaver Norton (1905-1982). Located at 2051 South Flagler Drive, the 1.7 acre sanctuary is comprised of rare palm and sculpture gardens, Ann Norton’s historic home and exhibition galleries, and Norton’s own Wyeth-designed artist studio. Open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., the Gardens are also available for private events.
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 visit www.ansg.org or call 561-832-5328