subscribe: Posts | Comments

Civil War soldier’s conservation now complete


In less than a month, Chris-Tel Construction and Miami-based art conservators Rosa Lowinger & Associates have completed restoration of the Civil War Memorial in Centennial Park East. The USCT 2nd Regiment Monument is now ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its installation in style.

The fictional African-American soldier in the monument represents the 168 men from companies D & I who were stationed in Fort Myers during the last 18 months of the Civil War. That contingent was responsible for repelling an attack on February 20, 1865 initiated by Major William Footman and 275 members of the Florida Special Cavalry, 1st Battalion, popularly known as the “Cow Cavalry.” Footman and the Cow Cavalry had orders to burn Fort Myers to the ground. Had they succeeded, it’s likely that the settlers who arrived a year later would have gone elsewhere to build their homes. So in a very real sense, the town of Fort Myers owes its existence to the men of companies D & I of the USCT 2d Regiment.

The soldier’s sculptor, Don “D.J.” Wilkins, nicknamed him Clayton because he used a ton of clay to cast the sergeant back in 1998.

RLA began work on October 1. Over the ensuing 30 days, teams of conservators cleaned the soldier with conservation-grade detergent, stripped off the existing paint one layer at a time, injected a special epoxy into cracks and fissures to stabilize the underlying composite, and then applied a primer and bronze-colored marine-grade metallic top coat that is specially formulated to protect the cast from heat, humidity, ultraviolet radiation and salt and mineral deposits. At the same time, Chris-Tel Construction re-grouted the tile on the Travertine steps and landing, pressure-washed and repainted the walls and replaced a section of coping that was destroyed during Hurricane Irma.

The installation now looks as good as it did when it was originally dedicated on Veteran’s Day some 20 years ago. But work is far done. RLA is working on annual maintenance and hurricane preparedness plans for the installation, and the City’s Public Art Committee is searching for one or more sponsors to help meet the cost of keeping the installation in tip-top shape through regular cleanings and ongoing conservation.

Work is also underway to add the installation to the City’s free phone app. Called Otocast, the app provides residents and visitors with technical information, historical photos, behind-the-scenes stories and other information about the public artworks they encounter throughout the City of Fort Myers. The centerpiece of the app is an audio recording that users can listen to while standing in front of the artwork they’re interested in learning more about.

Rosa Lowinger & Associates specializes in the conservation of built heritage, a term that encompasses art, architecture, museum collections, and public spaces. Rosa Lowinger is a recognized international expert in conservation and a specialist in modern and contemporary sculpture, architecture, and public art. She has been in private practice since 1988. Each of the company’s senior staff has been in practice for no less than 5 years and as a team, RLA has a combination of 50 years of experience carrying out conservation, cultural resource documentation, restoration, and historic remediation projects for architecture, public art, and sculpture in stone, masonry, concrete, metals, ceramic tile, terracotta, wood, plastic, plaster, terrazzo, linoleum and mosaics.

The USCT 2nd Regiment Monument and each of the City’s other 69 public artworks are administered by a 9-member Public Art Committee (which consists of 7 voting members and 2 alternates) that was established by ordinance that was adopted by the City Council in 2004. Members serve for three year terms, are not compensated, and must either be a resident of the city, work in the city, or be a member of an arts board or committee that is located in the city. The Public Art Committee oversees the commissioning, review, installation and maintenance of public art within the City. It meets in public session in City Council chambers on the third Tuesday of each month. Its next meeting is November 20.

November 7, 2018.






Comments are closed.