05/30/07 — Arts Council will put sculptures up for sale with auction houses

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Arts Council will put sculptures up for sale with auction houses

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 30, 2007 1:45 PM

Their aluminum eyes haven't kept watch over Ash Street in close to a decade. Instead, they stare up at a ceiling.

Their steel feathers feel the rust -- not the wind stirring hundreds of feet above the ground.

Two metal eagles that are stashed in a corner inside the Arts Council of Wayne County facility are likely the most valuable pieces there, but few people get a chance to see the massive sculptures.

The 9-foot, 150-pound birds were created in the 1970s by Tom Runnels, a well-known Midwestern artist.

The sculptures once perched above the windows of the branch of America Savings and Loan. Now that the building has become the home of the Arts Council, the eagles sit in a back room -- too large to display.

Arts Council director Sarah Merritt admits it's a shame.

There is just no place for them inside a building in need of a million-dollar renovation, she said.

So she is contacting auction houses, including Sotheby's, to find a permanent home for the birds.

"Of course, they're beautiful sculptures," Mrs. Merritt said. "But they need to be in a place where people can enjoy them -- someplace permanent."

And selling the sculptures is likely to bring in some much-needed dollars to the council, she added.

"At one point, they were appraised at $95,000," Mrs. Merritt said. "At this point, it would be great to be able to sell them and make that money."

But it is about more than just dollars, she added. It is about sharing "some magnificent pieces" with a larger audience.

"They really need a real home," Mrs. Merritt said. "Right now they are just sitting back here, and that's sad. They need to be hanging in a place where they can be enjoyed."