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    Sculpture couldn't ride out the storms

    Date: 24 Feb 2007 | | Views: 4010

    Red Sea Road, which used to adorn Miami Beach City Hall, appears to have been junked.

    Red Sea Road, a large, red, abstract sculpture that stood in front of Miami Beach City Hall for nearly 30 years, is not likely to return.

    Few have noticed the missing work of art, which was removed after the storms of October 2005 shred the metal sculpture "like a sardine can," said Dennis Leyva, the city's public art administrator.

    The sculpture now sits in pieces in a city-owned yard inside Flamingo Park, at 13th Street and Michigan Avenue. It is uncovered and appears to have rusted and deteriorated.

    Artist Barbara Neijna, who created the sculpture in collaboration with City Hall architects Bouterse, Perez & Fabrigas, said that's no way to treat a sculpture appraised at $500,000 before the storm. The city commissioned Red Sea Road for $78,000 in 1976.

    "I've never had an experience like this," said Neijna, whose public art also adorns courthouses in Broward County and a public library in Tampa.

    Neijna gave the city an estimate of $145,500 to repair and reinstall the piece, which measures 20-feet high by 40-feet wide by 20-feet deep.

    "It has to be stripped. New metal has to be purchased for it. It has to be made on a special press brake, an extra-wide press brake," she said. "All the connections to the foundation have to be made new."

    But Leyva said the city's insurance claims were denied.

    "Everything got denied," he said. "The first denial came directly from our insurance carrier. Then of course, you have to try and use all avenues and options. So the second one was FEMA and FEMA denied that one also.''

    Leyva said the city's Art in Public Places committee might make a recommendation for a new artwork to replace Red Sea Road. ''But that hasn't happened,'' he said.

    And it may not anytime soon.

    "A lot of people did not like it," Leyva said of the sculpture. "But now that it's not there, I think it's actually enhanced the look of the building."

    By DANIEL CHANG, Miami Herald

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