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Batavia approves changes to bridge sculpture

BATAVIA – The look of the next sculpture for the Wilson Street Bridge will change slightly.

Batavia aldermen Monday approved changes to the sculpture, which will be installed in summer. The sculpture, a nod to Batavia’s history, is titled “A Look Back,” and is being made by Oscar Leon and Jessica LoPresti of Highwood.

Originally, the sculpture showed three windmills and an American Indian with a particular headdress and haircut. After the city awarded the artists a $30,000 commission, they traveled to Wisconsin to meet with a representative of the Potawatomi Indians to make sure the piece would be as authentic as possible, Batavia City Administrator Bill McGrath told aldermen.

One of the changes is that the American Indian will be installed looking to the east.

“This is an important element to the Potawatomi because they are considered ‘keepers of the fire,’ ” McGrath said in a memo to aldermen. “The artists were told that the fire keeper always should be facing east.”

Other changes are that the sculpture will have only one windmill. McGrath said staff approved the changes.

“If it can be simplified, then certainly one windmill is all that is necessary to represent the importance of it in our history,” McGrath said. “The fewer the moving pieces, the better, and the more bronze the better, as well, in terms of maintenance.”

Batavia once was known as the windmill capital of the world for being home to six windmill factories. Concepts of the sculpture can be seen on the city’s website,

The city also is asking artists to submit ideas for the last two sculptures on the Wilson Street Bridge.

The city will offer a $30,000 commission for each sculpture. The themes for the next two sculptures are “Science and Art.”

Applications may be downloaded at The Batavia City Council will name the winning artists in September.

The City Council had set aside $30,000 for the bridge’s first sculpture, “Nature Sounds of Harmony,” which was dedicated in April 2009. The sculpture was installed after the reconstruction of the bridge in 2007-08.

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