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Museum sculpture to get crash-damage inspection

Director says 8-ton artwork could be valued at $900,000.

Monday, June 17, 2013 - 12:25 pm

Structural engineers were scheduled Monday to check the damage to a Fort Wayne Museum of Art sculpture toppled in a drunken-driving accident Sunday morning – an incident that could prove extremely costly for the driver.

Colton Adamonis, 23, of the 1900 block of Ardmore Avenue, was booked into Allen County Lockup at 8:35 a.m. Sunday on drunken-driving charges after his vehicle ran into the large, red stainless steel artwork, “Helmholtz” on the side of the Performing Arts Center, 303 E. Main St.

According to the lockup record, Adamonis – whose blood-alcohol level registered at 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08 – faces drunken-driving charges, including endangerment, property damage and leaving the scene of an accident. He was being held in lieu of $750 bond.

Adamonis' vehicle struck the “Helmholtz” at 2:18 a.m. Sunday and then left the scene, according to Fort Wayne Police Department spokeswoman Raquel Foster.

On Sunday, tire marks led from the center's driveway into the toppled structure, with vehicle parts lying on the opposite side. The abstract sculpture was knocked off its foundation points.

Art museum executive director Charles A. Shepard III said the museum's insurance policy could cover the cost of the damaged artwork. However, if the driver is found to be at fault, Shepard believes the museum's insurance company will ask the driver's insurance company to cover the cost. Shepard said the museum's insurance company would be doing an appraisal of the current market value of the artwork. Judging by smaller pieces that have recently been auctioned by the artist, Shepard said the sculpture could be valued as high as $900,000. He made an unsuccessful attempt to contact the artist Sunday, and is trying again Monday.

Shepard said a more secure fence will be placed around the sculpture, as the damage has made it unsafe. Down the road as they repair or replace the artwork, Shepard said they could either get a visit from the artist himself, one of the greatest living American sculptors, or members of his staff could be on hand to assess the damage and do the repairs.

The structure, created by Mark di Suvero from I-beams, was installed in 1985, originally on Main Street beside the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. The 21-foot-tall, 8-ton sculpture created a stir when it arrived from amateur art critics who described it as junk

.

Rea Magnet sponsored the commissioning of artwork in 1983 in celebration of the company's 50th anniversary. Di Suvero donated the work, estimated at the time to be worth $400,000. At its installation, he described it as “a spatial, non-figurative sculpture that must have breathing room. People should be able to walk around it and see it from all sides.”

He named it after Hermann Helmholtz, a famous 19th-century German physicist and physiologist.