City officials met Tuesday with the Fresno art community to figure out how to safely move a classic art piece from a building destroyed in a fire.
City Attorney Andrew Janz said it is too early to determine how exactly to preserve the art, where it will go, and if any sale will take place.
“The next step is to inspect the building … we don’t even know if we can move the mural. We’re going to make that determination down the road,” Janz said. “We’re not going to talk about moving or hiring somebody to move it if we can’t move it.”
Fire destroyed the Fagbule Glass House — on Shields Avenue and Highway 41 across from Manchester Center — starting just before midnight on Sunday. Crews demolished the building on Monday.
“A Day in the Park” by renowned local artist Clement Renzi, survived intact. The 288-tile clay relief remains on the side of the building facing Shields Avenue. It is the only wall that remains on the building, which opened as a bank in 1982.
Janz said that the owners of the building, the Fagbule family, contracted with the demolition crews and is responsible for costs.
The building site, including the art, is surrounded by chain-link fencing.
Janz said the family is aware of the city’s desire to move the art.
“We’re not talking about selling it, changing ownership, or anything like that. Those are conversations that are going to be had down the road,” Janz said.
Fresno artist Mark Rodriguez attended the Tuesday meeting. He agreed with Janz that it is too early to determine how to save the Renzi.
“It’s heavy. They’re going to bring cranes and all these other things. So there’s a whole bunch of engineering that’s going to be involved in that. So it’s going to be more of an engineering feat than an artist’s perspective,” Rodriguez said.
Will Fresno Art Museum Accept Piece?
Both Janz and City Councilman Nelson Esparza told GV Wire on Monday the city would work with the Fresno Art Museum to move and possibly house the art.
The museum’s executive director Michele Ellis Pracy said not so fast.
“I have not been contacted by the city,” Pracy said Tuesday morning.
Pracy would not commit the Fresno Art Museum to taking the Renzi. It depends on the size, she said. Either way, it would have to be displayed outside, likely in the sculpture garden.
“If we were to take it, I would need to raise $40,000 or $50,000 that I don’t have right now to handle the installation properly,” Pracy said.
Perhaps the Zoo Is a Better Fit for This Artwork
She had a suggestion of where the art could go.
“Because it’s entitled ‘A Day in the Park’ and if it needs to remain affixed to the wall that it’s on right now, it could go to the zoo. It’s to go to a place where there’s lots of room that could accommodate such a thing and where it would make sense for it to be. And to me, the zoo would be an ideal location,” Pracy said.
The museum houses several Renzis, including a sculpture in the front that was recently vandalized. Pracy said it could cost $50,000 to repair.
“Hopefully, our insurance will cover that. But if we have to remove her from the ground, she’s embedded into the concrete, and then she’s on a marble plinth and then she stands there. So we have to remove her completely, probably send her somewhere to have this paint removed so it doesn’t harm the patina on the sculpture,” Pracy said.
The Fresno Art Museum is closed until Feb. 11, installing a new lineup of exhibits.