Who Restores the Art Outdoors? Clues in Cambridge Examples: William Reimann’s Bollards and Bland Hoke’s “Artesian Well”

As I have visited and revisited local art outdoors for many years, I’ve seen how artwork can be worn down by time, weather, and all imaginable events. Luckily, also I have seen how artwork can be restored by planful focused funded teamwork. For example, here are photos, quotes and links with hints of how change happened at two sites in Cambridge.

William Reimann’s Granite Carvings at Corporal Burns Park

William Reimann’s granite carvings at Corporal Burns Park on Flagg Street. The Cambridge sculptor’s 1998 carvings in posts and sidewalk tiles in the park depict birds and fish of Charles River—red-wing blackbirds, black-capped chickadee, mallard ducks.” (quote from Self-Guided Tour Of Public Art In Central Square, Cambridgeport, Riverside )

The designs were refreshed by Cambridge Arts’ Conservation and Maintenance Program from 2020 to 2022 with careful inpainting of the designs to heighten contrast. Reimann originally created the carvings by drawing and hand-cutting rubber stencils that guided the sandblasting of the designs. ” ( quote from  Self-Guided Tour Of Public Art In Central Square, Cambridgeport, Riverside)

The goal of preventative conservation is to address maintenance issues before they become bigger, more intensive (and expensive) problems,” Cambridge Arts Director of Art Conservation Craig Uram says. “Our Conservation and Maintenance Program works to get to as much of the public collection as possible each year, to inspect, clean, coat, remove rust and biological growth, and fix minor damages in an effort to preserve the collection and stave off costly deterioration.( quote from How Cambridge Arts Conservation and Maintenance Program Preserves Public Art for the Future,”Cambridge Arts, June 2020)

The program that Uram leads is an award-wining and national model, providing ongoing and professional care to the city’s public works. The program adheres to the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice of the American Institute of Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, according to the Cambridge Arts website.” ( quote from “Focusing on the arts: Cambridge has 280 pieces of public art, who’s taking care of it all?” by William J. Dowd in Wicked Local Cambridge, July 2022)

“Cambridge Arts meticulously documents in writing and in photographs all maintenance and treatments, according to the city. Technicians, on a regular basis, reference these records before they begin conservation work.” ( quote from “Focusing on the arts: Cambridge has 280 pieces of public art, who’s taking care of it all?” by William J. Dowd in Wicked Local Cambridge, July 2022)

“The City of Cambridge has more than 280 works of contemporary public art. And through late June, Cambridge Arts’ Conservation And Maintenance Program (CAMP) is out visiting many of them to preserve them for the future.” ( quote from How Cambridge Arts Conservation and Maintenance Program Preserves Public Art for the Future,”Cambridge Arts, June 2020)

The same site on Cambridge Arts includes a brief video of the CAMP teams at work at several sites, including Bland Hoke’s Sculpture and Benches, with background information and photos below:


Bland Hoke’s Sculpture and Benches near Sacramento Field

“Hoke’s two benches are distinguished by their materials: stainless steel pipe and translucent blue polycarbonate. The artist transformed curving sections of pipe into the legs and rounded backs of the benches. Then he ground swirling lines into the legs and cut droplet shapes from the metal seat backs to evoke flowing or splashing water. The resulting designs let light through so that the blue plastic of the seat front glows.” (quote from New Art Benches And Sculpture At Sacramento Field Evoke Pond That Historically Occupied The Park )

The benches are accompanied by a vertical stainless steel sculpture of curving shapes, reaching skyward, that were pieced together from the pipes cut up to make the benches. Hoke’s references to pipes and water speak to the history of Sacramento Field. The Somerville Dyeing & Bleaching Company bought the property in 1853 and adapted it to feed as much as 100,000 gallons of water into the plant each day.” ( quote from New Art Benches And Sculpture At Sacramento Field Evoke Pond That Historically Occupied The Park )

Funding public art in most Massachusetts communities is often a rare expenditure, but such investments remain a top priority in Cambridge. … Case in point: The Cambridge public art portfolio claims nearly 300 pieces from sculptures and mosaics to murals and stained glass under the care of Cambridge Arts, a city agency that funds, promotes and presents high-quality, community-based arts programming for the benefit of artists, residents and visitors to the city.“( quote from “Focusing on the arts: Cambridge has 280 pieces of public art, who’s taking care of it all?” by William J. Dowd in Wicked Local Cambridge, July 2022)

Key Resources:

How Cambridge Arts’ Conservation And Maintenance Program Preserves Public Art For The Future on Cambridge Arts website

Self-Guided Tour Of Public Art In Central Square, Cambridgeport, Riverside on Cambridge Arts

Art Conservation, Cambridge Arts

“Focusing on the arts: Cambridge has 280 pieces of public art, who’s taking care of it all?” by William J. Dowd Wicked Local Cambridge, July 2022,

New Art Benches And Sculpture At Sacramento Field Evoke Pond That Historically Occupied The Park

William P. Reimann , Stonework for the Cambridge Parks, on artist’s website

BLAND DESIGN: Artwork Bland Hoke artist’s website

Greg Cook’s WONDERLAND: Public Art

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