City is Fountain Head-less, Temporarily

Celebrated North Main Street sculpture removed because of 'blushing,' a fading of fibers in the finish. It is being resealed.

One of the mysterious highlights of Walnut Creek's summer has been the installation in June of

Adults — and especially toddlers — have been attracted (some repelled) by the mysterious head with closed eyes, half-submerged in a fountain pool in front of the Mechanics Bank. Some say it looks like Buddha. Some do double takes. Young children gingerly approach it and touch the thin stream coursing down all sides of the head from a burbling little fountain at the top of the head.

Now they'll do a double take because it's gone. The fountain pool is headless, temporarily, and looks lonely. It was loaded on a truck Tuesday and taken away to the artist's studio.

The sculpture by Seyed Alavi was removed to have new sealant applied, according to a statement released by Barry Gordon, Walnut Creek's director of arts, recreation and community services. The gold color has been fading from contact with the water. The restoration is expected to be complete by the end of next week.

Patch reader John N commented: "Maybe they are going to put it in the same warehouse that the 'lost ark' is in  :)   Wouldn't that be cool. I don't care who paid for it, it was a waste of money."

From Gordon's statement:

The art in the fountain in front of Mechanics Bank on North Main Street was removed today to have a new sealant applied to the finish.

Shortly after the installation of Seyed Alavi’s “Fountain Head”, the gold surface color of the fiberglass sculpture began to fade from contact with the water. When the water flow shut down every night, the color returned. After discussion and research by the artist, fabricator Academy Studios and City staff, it was determined that water was wicking into fibers in the Gelcoat finish causing “blushing,” which clouded the color.   

A new product was identified and applied to a test piece made of the same material and painted the same color. The test was successful and the test piece showed no discoloration from the water. Once back in the studio, the art will sit to allow full drying, and when dry the new material will be applied and allowed to cure.

There will be no cost to the artist or the City to rectify the blushing. Academy Studios will refinish the piece at their expense. We anticipate “Fountain Head” will be reinstalled by the end of next week. 
And, by the way, a July poll for the funniest remark about the sculpture remains active, and the two top choices are just two votes apart.

John Bennison August 22, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Preserving 'Fountain Head' should be important to our citizenry -- particularly where it resides outside one of our financial institutions -- as we struggle together to all keep our heads above water!
Jean Powers August 22, 2012 at 05:28 PM
I feel it is a postive attraction to the city. I don't understand why some people have to be so negative. Our country would be so much better if we all can be nice to each other. If we cannot say anything nice about something then do not say anything. Cannot wait to see it back. Thank you Mr. Alavi.
Elizabeth August 22, 2012 at 06:13 PM
I'm glad that it is only temporary! I was worried that someone buckled under pressure of what some thought about the sculpture. Get well fountain head, we need you back for the long haul :)
DubCeemom August 23, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I absolutely adore the Fountainhead! It's serene, witty and one-of-a-kind. Kudos to the artist! It's a signature artwork for Walnut Creek.
54 September 13, 2012 at 03:48 AM
I’m curious to know what the protocol is for the permanent removal of an art object in Walnut Creek? While I don’t feel that it is hideous, in my opinion a better choice could have been made and Fountain Head is out of place with the nostalgic feel of Main Street.


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