subscribe: Posts | Comments

Keeping ‘Rachel at the Well’ under wraps until repairs can be made


As motorists passing by her have noticed, the City-owned sculpture affectionately called Rachel at the Well (her real name is The Spirit of Fort Myers) is under wraps. The orange mesh safety fencing is intended to hold the statue together until she can be restored by professional art conservators.

The 96-year-old Grecian maiden was badly damaged when the bougainvillea behind the statue caught Hurricane Ian’s 110+ mile per hour winds like the sail of a mighty schooner. It toppled the heavy wrought-iron fence with which it had become entwined, cracking Rachel’s elegant neck and breaking her back at the hips. As the bougainvillea’s spiked branches were buffeted by the wind over the next several hours, they covered Rachel’s exposed arms and dress with abrasions and scratch marks, grinding dirt and leaves into the sculpture’s delicate surface.

Fortunately, the sculpture can be pieced back together by conservators (the fancy name for art professionals who are trained in restoring damaged artworks). But the maiden is likely to bear the scars inflicted by Ian for the rest of her life. Some of the pieces around the broken joints will need to be recreated, and it may prove impossible to remove all of the scratches and abrasions from Rachel’s neck, arms and shift.

The sculpture’s restoration will take several months. Because of the scope and breadth of the damage and the necessity of making repairs on site rather than in a warehouse or studio, the cost of restoring Rachel to her previous glory will be substantial, necessitating several bids before the work can be awarded to an art conservation team. The It will likely take the balance of 2022 to clear these hurdles, which means that Rachel will remain cloaked in her current orange mesh corset until the Spring of 2023.

The Public Art Committee is not involved in making repairs to the infrastructure surrounding the sculpture (such replacing the wrought-iron fencing and the spire on the west side of the statue or making repairs to the spire on Rachel’s east side) and has received no word on who or when these fixes are likely to be made.

But the Committee wants Edison Park homeowners and everyone else who drives by Rachel and has come to know and love her that they are dedicated to her restoration and exerting every possible effort to ensure that the work is done in both a timely and professional manner.

October 31, 2022.


Comments are closed.