PITTSFIELD -- A major gift from the Garden Tour Committee will fund a new permanent sculpture near First Street on the Pittsfield Common.
The 14-foot piece, called "Infinite Dance," will include a bronze female figure dancing atop a stainless steel ring, according to a design approved Wednesday by the city Parks Commission.
The artist is Carol Gold, who was raised in South County and has designed a number of sculptures for public sites in other states, including at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark. She was one of 17 artists who submitted a total of 77 ideas for the sculpture, according to Anne Pasko, co-chairwoman of the garden committee.
"We were very fortunate to have attracted this caliber of artist," Pasko said.
She said of the proposals, "almost every one of them was gorgeous," but added that there was wide agreement in choosing Gold's concept among the 11 women in the group.
The committee had wanted the artist to have ties to the Berkshires, and Gold, now of California, has lived in the county and has family members living here.
For 15 years, the garden committee has held annual tours of a total of 110 garden spots throughout Pittsfield, and most of the money for this project will come from the sale of tickets for the tours. She declined to provide the overall cost of the sculpture at this time, but said "this is a very expensive piece."
This will be the first major sculpture by Gold to be displayed in a public space in the Northeast, Pasko said. However, she has pieces on permanent display in California, Colorado and at other sites, in addition to the one at the entrance to the Clinton library.
James McGrath, manager of the city's Park, Open Space and Natural Resource Program, who is overseeing a major, multiphase redevelopment project for the 6-acre Common site, said the Parks Commission "was quite impressed" by the sculpture and the gift to the city.
He said the small brick structure used as a warming building, which had restrooms and space for ice skaters to take a break from the cold, will be razed as part of the current phase of the Common work. The sculpture, along with two concrete pads for the temporary display of public artworks, will replace the small building.
Those are expected to hold sculptures the city's Artscape program displays at parks in the city, including Park Square. The temporary displays usually are replaced by another work on an annual basis.
The sculpture site, which will be further enhanced by gardens and landscaping, "will open some nice views, some nice vistas" for those passing by on First Street, McGrath said.
He said he expects to present a design for the next phase of the Common redevelopment project -- including grading and installation of underground utilities, in two months, with the aim of work beginning by July.
The sculpture is likely to be mounted on a permanent base and be unveiled in the fall, he said.
Eventually, Pasko said, the site will include gardens and other improvements, adding that it is envisioned as a long-term project for the garden committee. "We will make sure it is nicely landscaped," she said.
Gold has created a design and mock-up of the piece, Pasko said, and after final negotiations with the artist, it will be created in time for mounting.
Pasko said "it is pretty impressive that this small committee" could raise the necessary amount in addition to about $85,000 over the past decade and a half for various gardening or landscaping projects in the city -- primarily through ticket sales for its tours.
She also credited the Berkshire Taconic Foundation, which assists nonprofit groups with finances, for wisely investing the group's funds over the years and increasing the amount. While "being very frugal with our money," the committee has long planned "a major project for the city of Pittsfield," she said.
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