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Public art for Liberty?

Metal sculptor Zac Shavrick poses with his creation, called Ed, which may soon be on display in Liberty, NY.
Contributed photo

By Fritz Mayer
July 17, 2013

The 14-foot-tall statue called Ed was temporarily installed in front of the Stray Cat Gallery on Route 17B in Bethel. Now, supporters of sculptor Zac Shavrick would like to have the sculpture displayed for a time at a prominent location on Main Street in the Town of Liberty.

Louie Petraglia, the co-owner of the popular village eatery Floyd & Bobo’s Bakery and Snack Place, turned out to the town meeting on July 15 to ask the town board for permission to display the sculpture on Main Street for four to six months. The bakery is located next door to town hall, and the lawn of the town hall is elevated about three feet above street level and surrounded by a massive stone wall.

Petraglia said, “We thought it would be nice to have it up in the air, overlooking Main Street where people could enjoy it from all directions.” He said after the piece was displayed for a time, he and his partner in the effort, Akira Ohiso, the editor of Green Door Magazine, would seek other artists who might like to display their work in the same location.

Ohiso said, “My readership tends to be people with an arts or literature background, and the sense that I’m getting is there are people here who would like to see some public art on Main Street.”

Petraglia said the two businesses would take care of insurance matters.

Council member Maurice Gerry said the piece was certainly an “eye catcher,” but that “people seeing it might slow down and stop, and that would not be a good place to slow down and stop.” He said that the new mini-park that the town recently created, off Main Street, would be a more appropriate place to display public art.

Council member Dean Farrand said that if the sculpture were displayed in the park he would be more concerned about security issues.

Supervisor Charlie Barbutie said he would move the process forward by looking into the insurance question.

Allison Ruef, the communications specialist for the Liberty Central School District, spoke in favor of displaying the sculpture on Main Street. She said, “Public art starts conversations; it instills pride; it’s a destination. Public art sends a message. Zac is a 2005 graduate of Liberty High School, and he’d probably have a much better chance creating art somewhere else, but he chose to stay here and create art here. Allowing Zac’s art to be displayed on Main Street sends a message: it says we are progressive, we are evolving, we provide a place for art to exist and be seen, and we support Liberty graduates.”

Shavrick has a sculpture garden opening on July 25 at his studio on Butrick Road in the Town of Bethel.