It’s 19 feet tall and 19 feet wide, weighs almost a ton, and has more than a dozen long steel spikes.
The “Setting Sun” sculpture, valued at $40,000, will be a gift to the town of Hilton Head from the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, according to town documents. The piece was selected from the 2015 Public Art Exhibition to be donated to the town’s growing public art collection.
But one town leader on Monday questioned whether the sculpture poses a safety risk to children.
“Would this be in a place where there might be a temptation of kids to hang off those spikes?” council member David Ames asked during a Public Facilities Committee meeting, though he pointed out the sculpture was “one of his favorites” of the 2015 exhibition.
Jayme Lopko, the town’s senior planner, replied that there would be measures to “safeguard” the new piece, noting the site for the sculpture hasn’t been selected but that the “public will be safe.” Lopko said Tuesday the town is considering several options to keep the public off the sculpture, including roping it off or elevating it so it can’t be reached.
After several more questions on Monday, the committee voted unanimously to recommend to Town Council that the gift be accepted.
Brian Hulbert, the town’s staff attorney, said Tuesday the town is covered through liability insurance in the case of someone injuring himself on a piece of public art.
It’s not the first time a public art sculpture on Hilton Head has raised safety issues.
In 2015, “Caracol,” a red metal spiral, was placed at the Shelter Cove Community Park. Before the unveiling, a 7-year-old boy wedged his leg in the structure, and emergency responders had to use surgical lubricant to free him. Afterward, the town roped off the sculpture with a temporary “Do Not Climb” sign.
Hulbert said Tuesday there have been instances where children have climbed onto the Charles Fraser statue in Compass Rose Park and were told to get off. He also said a man a few years ago tried to jump over the reflective pond at the same park, adding that the man later sued the town and lost.
The “Setting Sun” model was created by artist Tom Holmes of Pennsylvania out of wood. Holmes said Tuesday he is in the process of creating a steel version for the town.
Initial plans called for the sculpture to be located in a lagoon in the proposed Coligny Park, town documents show. But that project has since been put on hold because, according to town manager Steve Riley, the town has faced cash-flow problems with hurricane recovery.
The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is asking that the piece be temporarily placed at the Coastal Discovery Museum’s grounds at Honey Horn until it can be permanently located in the proposed Coligny Park. The exact location on the museum’s grounds will be determined by the foundation’s Public Art Committee, town staff and the Coastal Discovery Museum, according to town documents.
Jean Heyduck, vice president for marketing and communications at the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, said Tuesday the artist is expected to ship the materials and construct the piece at its temporary location on Oct. 24. In an Aug.14 letter to Hilton Head mayor David Bennett, Heyduck said the October date was selected to commemorate the anniversary of Hurricane Matthew.
The letter asked that Town Council at its Sept. 19 meeting accept the gift into the town’s public art collection.
Six pieces of public art on Hilton Head
▪ “Charles Fraser” statue in Compass Rose Park
▪ “Family” sculpture in Chaplin Linear Park
▪ “Sail Around” at the corner of William Hilton Parkway and Arrow Road
▪ “Poppies” in the Veterans’ Memorial at Shelter Cove Community Park
▪ “THEB-Tally” in a marshfront parcel in the Stoney area
▪ “Caracol” in Shelter Cove Community Park
Source: Jayme Lopko, Hilton Head town senior planner