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Batavia installs latest bridge sculpture

‘Spintronic’ placed on a pedestal

Former Batavia City Administrator Bill McGrath (from left) and Batavia Street Superintendent Scott Haines put on finishing touches as the “Spintronic” sculpture is placed on the downtown bridge.
Former Batavia City Administrator Bill McGrath (from left) and Batavia Street Superintendent Scott Haines put on finishing touches as the “Spintronic” sculpture is placed on the downtown bridge.

BATAVIA – The Wilson Street bridge just enhanced its standing as an art gallery, with the placement of the third of four sculptures on the downtown Batavia span.

“Spintronic,” a steel and glass sculpture by artist Nicole Beck of Chicago, was hoisted up and bolted down onto its pedestal on a sunny July 7 afternoon.

Leo Devine, of the Batavia Electric Department, operated the crane, gently placing the 10-foot-tall, 800-pound work of art on its concrete pedestal, as co-worker Doug Siegler helped guide it into place.

Batavia Street Department Superintendent Scott Haines and former Batavia City Administrator Bill McGrath then bolted the sculpture in place as Beck looked on.

It has been nearly a decade since the reconstruction of the bridge – known formally as the William J. Donovan Bridge – and four pedestals were included when the span was rebuilt.

McGrath was serving as city administrator during the bridge project and championed the idea of incorporating public artwork that would celebrate the themes of nature, history, science and art.

Beck’s “Spintronic” was chosen in a community survey from several entries within the art category. The sculpture is composed of stainless steel tubing adorned with pastel-colored glass discs.

The discs are made of dichroic glass, which displays shifting colors under various lighting conditions and from changing vantage points by the viewer.

“The colors shift radically,” Beck said. “When the sun comes out, it is really intense.”

Although representing the art theme, Beck’s inspiration for “Spintronic” is rooted in science and is her take on the electromagnetic spin of electrons.

“It’s nice that it’s here because of Fermilab,” Beck said.

“Spintronic” joins two other sculptures that have been in place for several years.

The nature sculpture, a stainless steel work depicting cattails, is called “Sounds of Harmony.” The history sculpture, a bronze piece called “A Look Back,” is of a Native American standing before a windmill.

Completing the gallery of four sculptures will be the science-themed “Fractal Limits” by Northern Illinois University art professor Bruce White.

McGrath said White’s sculpture is expected to be installed in about two or three weeks.

Beck, with a graduate degree in art from NIU, was a student of White’s and credits the teacher for her decision to become a sculptor.

“I took classes from Bruce, and I got hooked,” Beck said.

A new location will be found for the two bulldog figures that have been serving as artistic placeholders on the pedestals.

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