Sculpture evoking threatened Utah national monuments survives Ogden fire marshal review

Sculpture evoking threatened Utah national monuments survives Ogden fire marshal review

OGDEN — A temporary paper sculpture intended to symbolize threatened national monuments in southern Utah has been altered after drawing the Ogden fire marshal’s attention.

“Unmaking Monuments” was unveiled at a public event Saturday as part of the opening of the Monarch creative studios, 455 25th St., in the Nine Rails Creative District.

But the sculpture, covering much of the Monarch’s lobby, received a “state two” creative reworking Tuesday after concerns arose about whether it presented a fire hazard.

“Someone alerted us to it,” Ogden Fire Marshal Kevin Brown said. “A large portion was covering the fire sprinkler heads.”

Discussions involving Brown, the Monarch, the sculptors and the Ogden First arts group, known as 01ARTS, apparently resolved the problem. Portions of the sculpture covering the fire sprinklers were removed, and Brown said he recommended the remaining paper be treated with fire suppressant material.

“We feel pretty good about it,” Brown said Thursday.

D. Scott Patria, O1ARTS’s executive director, said Wednesday the sculpture would have been altered soon anyway, because it is a three-state work. The art piece will remain for a few months, he said.

“The work was always supposed to change, with possibly political undertones,” Patria said. “Beyond simply referencing geologic time, erosion and natural change … the loss of mass is meant to reference the loss of landmass in the proposed shrinkage of Grand Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments.”

President Donald Trump ordered the monuments reduced, and environmental and cultural groups are fighting the actions in federal court.

The state one version unveiled last weekend resembled Delicate Arch. With state three, the arch will have crumbled, Patria said.

Maine artists Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen are collaborating on the work as Ogden’s first visiting artists in residence. The project is a partnership between O1ARTS and the Monarch, funded in part by Weber County RAMP, Wheelwright Lumber, the Bigelow Hotel and private donors.

“The project is intended to call attention to the tradition of land art in the American West and the natural processes that have shaped Utah’s cultural monuments,” O1ARTS said in a news release.

Brown said the brown paper bag material used in the sculpture is highly flammable but it could be made safe with flame retardant treatment.

“It’s a really cool piece of art,” the fire marshal said. He said he was seeing to the protection of the public and finding a way so the sculpture could be retained in part.

Brown said the covering of the sprinkler nozzles was innocent.

“It’s not the kind of thing people think of,” he said.

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