DavidHayes_pageArt around Erie
Public Sculpture Exhibition by David Hayes

2005 – 2006

Twelve outdoor sculptures by internationally known artist David Hayes punctuated State Street and Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park in a year-long exhibition of his colorful, playful abstract works. All twelve sculptures were simultaneously unveiled around the city on October 21. This outdoor exhibition was the most recent public art endeavor by Erie Art Museum to bring art out of the museum and into the city streets in ways that engage, excite and surprise.

Hayes’ sculptures have been dotting the landscapes of campuses, museums, sculpture parks and his home in Coventry, Connecticut for more than 40 years. He studied under David Smith at Indiana University, where Hayes received his M.F.A. Hayes has received a post-doctoral Fulbright award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has had over 300 solo exhibitions, and his sculptures are in the collections of over 60 museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Brooklyn Museum, the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.

David Hayes’ artwork integrates organic and geometric shapes cut from flat sheets of steel that are bolted together. David starts with daily sketches inspired by forms in nature. The sketches are abstract, but recall animals, humans, insects, waves and clouds. He refines these sketches into working drawings, with various colors differentiating separate shapes. He often makes cardboard models, shifting and changing the pieces until they are just right. These maquettes become the basis of the final sculptures, which are painted in bold, flat colors.

Hayes wants viewers to bring their own interpretation to the artworks. Says the sculptor, “The perennial question I get is: ‘What’s it supposed to be?’ And I always answer: ‘It’s whatever you interpret it to be.’ … It’s not based on literalness; it’s based on imagination–my imagination and the viewer’s imagination.”

The whole thing was a family affair: The sculptures arrived in Erie de-assembled, and Hayes’ two sons, David Jr. and John helped to re-assemble the sculptures at their various locations around the city. The two help with every aspect of the artist’s work, including publicity, logistical arrangements and installation. Says David Jr., “The whole family sort of gathers together to do these kinds of things. It’s great fun.”