For over a year, Lighthouse Bank President Richard Hoffstetter attempted to find a home for an eight and a half foot concrete sculpture housed outside of his bank’s future Santa Cruz location. He searched and searched but was unable to find a taker for the curved, rebar enforced slab of concrete, sand and polyethylene, but time was running out.
Lighthouse Bank was inching closer to a remodel that would take place on the exact spot where the sculpture had stood for the last 32 years.
By chance, Jared Bogard, executive vice president of Bogard Construction, the company designing the bank’s remodel, happened to see a bronze plaque that had been obscured by leaves and dirt. The plaque contained the name of Harry Powers, the artist commissioned to create the piece by Bank of the West in 1983.
Bogard sought out Powers, 88, with the hope that a solution could be found.
“In one final effort before construction demolition began, I emailed Mr. Powers to inquire as to his interest in the piece,” said Bogard. “Fortunately, he was very interested and immediately found a home [for the sculpture].”
The sculpture, “Vasari,” was designed to model a piece of torn paper Powers received when he was in Florence, Italy. In fact, a rough sketch of that map – pointing out the spot where an ice cream shop stood – and a symbol for the Arno River are etched into the sculpture.
When Powers received Bogard’s email, he immediately jumped into action, deciding there was only one place he really wanted the piece to go: The Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara.
“A couple of years ago, I had a very large exhibit at the Triton, which I was very happy with and the Triton has such a good program,” said Powers. “I have such great admiration for their curator, Preston Metcalf. So, I contacted Preston and told him what was happening and would the Triton, if the bank would make a gift of it, want it, and Preston enthusiastically said yes.
Once the museum agreed to be the recipient of the donation, Bogard Construction made arrangements to supervise the removal and delivery of “Vasari” to its new home.
On July 14, the sculpture arrived. After the City of Santa Clara dug a hole outside the Jamison Brown House, “Vasari” was placed into the ground – with special attention placed to its orientation to the sun – and dirt packed in around the concrete base to keep it in place.
“It’s designed to play with the sun,” said Powers. “As the sun moves, the shadows grow and change so the shadow pattern is constantly shifting as the sun rakes over it. Preston is very careful to get it set that way.”
Metcalf was ecstatic about the museum’s latest addition and has nothing but admiration for Powers’ work. “I can talk to Harry all day and he keeps bringing little things up,” said Metcalf. “Everything is a symbol. Everything represents something.”
“Vasari” is the second Powers sculpture to reside on Triton grounds. The first piece, “Boyne,” is on loan and currently sits in front of the museum.