New Public Art Sculpture Installed

Oct 2, 2017

Artist James Kitchen and his sculpture fashioned from hundreds of pipe wrenches. The public art project is on display in front of the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield, MA
Credit WAMC

    A new piece of public art is on display in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts. It represents a first for the city in more than one way.

    A sculpture fashioned from more than 400 adjustable wrenches sits in front of the MassMutual Center on Main Street. Local artist James Kitchen, who has been making art from scrap metal for almost 20 years, said this work celebrates one of Springfield’s “firsts” – the invention of the wrench.

    " This is also a metaphor for the city about how we are all connected," said Kitchen.

    This is also the first public art project funded by the city under a new program.

    Kitchen said the work is called “Pipe Wrench Dreams.”  During an unveiling ceremony, the artist said he had been collecting wrenches for years, and got the idea for the sculpture after a local historian told him the story of Springfield industrialist Solymon Merrick obtaining a patent for the wrench in 1842.

   " I love recycling and I love reminding people about history," explained Kitchen.

    Kitchen has done public art projects throughout western Massachusetts for years.  He said public art creates a sense of community.

    " After I have a piece in place for a year or so, and then I move it leaving an empty piece of grass or whatever, that is when people appreciate public art," observed Kitchen.

    This is the first project under a new public art program developed the city.  Brian Connors, the city’s deputy director of economic development, said the sculpture was purchased for $5,000 using Community Development Block Grant funds.

  " We just had two stipulations: we wanted it to be about Springfield history and we wanted it put in the downtown cultural district. The rest was up to the artist," said Connors.

   Evan Plotkin, a founding board member of the Springfield Central Cultural District, praised the city’s decision to invest, for the first time, in a public art project.  He said it shows a commitment to highlighting the walkability of downtown Springfield.

  " We have beautiful fountains and sculptures all over this downtown. It is really extraordinary. It creates a better experience for people coming here," said Plotkin.

  A second city-funded public art project, a mural painted on the side of a downtown building, is nearing completion.