It was an unusually cold and rainy day for the installation of Alice and her friends in Evelyn’s Park. A flatbed truck carrying the characters on an open bed trailer drove down the I-10 freeway during rush hour traffic. I’m sure a few heads turned. The entire scene weighs in at 6,000 pounds.
Police blocked off one westbound lane on the busy road of Bellaire Boulevard. A crane which was late, I hear they had it on their schedule for the following day, finally arrived and parked on the gravel road in the park where many of the food trucks park during events.
It was quite a site to see the long crane arm move over the park, pick up a 9 foot March Hare and watch him fly through the sky to his final resting place in Evelyn’s Memorial Garden. Each piece made this same flight.
The positioning of each of the characters is very important to the design. Bridgette Mongeon created each character so that they are looking at an empty space. In other words, the scene is not complete until people are at the scene and interacting with the characters. The artist worked with Deep In the Heart Art Foundry both in Bastrop and on site to make the installation perfect.
The crew from Deep in The Heart Art Foundry, the artist and the crane operators worked long hours. The installation began at 8:00 a.m. and finished up nearly 12 hours later.
Alice, her chair and the Cheshire cat are one piece. The table top and base is a second piece. There are two small benches that are on each side of the March Hare, The march Hare and his stump are a piece on their own. The Mad Hatter and his chair are one piece. There is one long bench in the front of the table, and then the book/dedication pedestal sits off to the side. That means eight major pieces needed to be installed.
Each of the pieces has stainless steel footings. Once each piece is placed, installation begins. The workers drill the concrete and then secure the threaded rod in each hole. Later the nuts will be welded onto the threaded rods.
Each of the pieces float in the area. The park plans on coming in and putting bark mulch fill with gravel under the mulch for drainage. The rest of the park has a crushed pea gravel, much to Bridgette’s dismay. This sand type component gets into the shoes of children who track it onto the sculpture. It also blows from the surrounding areas and lands on the art. This material may act like sandpaper and is a good way to scratch the surface of the art.
The welded rods used as support are taken off of the Mad Hatter’s arms. Each piece is ground smooth. Last but not least, the sploosh that comes from the Mad Hatter’s teapot must be welded to the table. The foundry welds this in place and then finishes the patina or the color to match the rest of the scene.
The only thing left is to clean off the sculpture and give it a good polish. The park screens off the sculpture and Bridgette brings a team of artists, along with gathering anyone in the park that wants to help, and together they buff out the sculpture to make it shine.
With a little maintenance of cleaning yearly and waxing the sculpture it will last a long time. The patina may darken a bit, but the work of art, now installed, will last for generations to come.
( There are some live videos of the installation on Finding Alice Sculpture on Facebook. Video Number 1, Number 2 Number 3, Number 4, and a friend says a jewish Blessing over the sculpture installation. )