Thank You

Lee Berger, Blue’s Sandblasting, and Sherwin Williams. Click the link for a peek at the restoration process.

Sculpture Garden

The 621 Gallery Sculpture Garden began with a controversial installation, TrashHenge, by Nancy Rubins in 1979 and was later formalized as a sculpture garden by Charles Hook and David Crook in 1981. This industrial neighborhood, later to be known as the Railroad Square Art Park, would provide an alternative space linking past industry and contemporary sculpture. 621 is working alongside other members of the community to restore the sculpture garden to its former glory.

Restoration

Established in 1981, The Vision for the 621 Sculpture Garden has been to create the largest outdoor exhibition space in Tallahassee, improve the aesthetics of the arts district, and create a safe environment for guests visiting Railroad Square. An assessment has been made of seven sculptures in the park, a plan of action is in development, and a timeline for the restorations is coming into focus. Given the cost of restoring the sculptures, we are asking the community to assist in the process.

Consultations with Mark Dickson about what is needed to restore the sculptures have given us valuable information about the artworks and what he feels is an appropriate course of action. Unfortunately, three of the seven sculptures that were assessed need metal work done on them. This is both an aesthetic issue and a safety issue. In order to proceed, we first need to learn what each sculpture is coated with and what methods can be used in removing the coating for metalwork to occur. What we are looking out for is lead-contaminated paint, material has not been in use since the 70s but occasionally be found on newer sculptures. We want to ensure that we understand what materials we are working with in order to better protect those involved in the restoration. The restorations we have planned are heavily dependent on donations and volunteer work.

Scott Rains from Blue’s Sandblasting for paint and rust removal services. After our consultation meeting, Scott has pledged to sandblast three of our sculptures for free. The only cost of 621 will be with the bill of materials. Ron Knight from Corrosion Protection & Solution has pledged to donate a gallon of Quick Tan, a rust inhibitor, for free. Sherman William has pledged to donate paint and primer to this project as well.

We have confirmed that the sculptures have a lead-free surface treatment, and we proceeded with sandblasting the sculptures, Charles Hook’s T-Rail, on the morning of June 14th, 2019. After the old paint and rust were removed, we applied Quick Tan in order to prevent any corrosion from occurring. This gave us a two-week window for welding and filling on the surface of the sculpture. After all the bodywork was completed, we applied an epoxy primer to further prevent corrosion and promote adhesion of the final topcoat of paint.

This is a continuous project, and we thank all who have volunteered their time and donations to see to its completion. Below, you will find images of the sculptures that your contributions have helped save.

Vision

As Tallahassee’s premiere gallery since 1981, we host this exhibition to celebrate the history of the Sculpture Garden and our role in maintaining the legacy of one of our founding members, Charles Hook. Through the restoration and maintenance of the sculptures hosted by the Arts District, 621 hopes to highlight the cultural assets of south Tallahassee and spark new interest in public art as new sites begin to open up for outdoor sculpture in Railroad Square.

The Charles Hook Memorial Sculpture Garden is a gallery that does not have walls. As part of a plan to bring more visitors into the heart of the Arts District, Railroad Square and 621 Gallery are planning to expand the outdoor exhibition platforms with a rotation of contemporary works to be on display around the Railroad Square Art Garden.

As a gallery with a rich history, we aim to celebrate that through stewardship of the existing sculptures within the park. With new opportunities on the horizon, we will continue to support artwork that is contemporary in content as well as execution, and advocate for greater representation of outdoor sculpture made by artists of today.

History

Born from an artist-led urban revitalization effort, the goal was to improve the aesthetics of the Gaines Street area by creating Tallahassee’s largest outdoor exhibition space. The Sculpture Garden began with a controversial installation, TrashHenge, by internationally renowned artist Nancy Rubins in 1979. The grassy area at the entrance to Railroad Square (now the site of new retail spaces and a hotel) became the informal exhibition space for visiting professors and local sculptors to exhibit temporary installations of their works. The Sculpture Garden lay unattended until 1981 when Charles Hook and David Crook, sculptors and founding members of the 621 Gallery, began to shape it into a formal exhibition space. This industrial neighborhood, later to be known as the Railroad Square Art District, would provide an alternative space linking areas of industrial history with the future of contemporary sculpture.

From these humble beginnings, the founding members of 621 Gallery were embarking on a grassroots urban revitalization effort creating a cultural asset within Tallahassee’s Southside Community. In the Spring of 2007, the first Sculpture Garden Restoration Project went into effect after an inquiry into the conditions and landscaping surrounding the sculptures. On March 6th, 2008, the Sculpture Garden was memorialized after founding member of 621 Gallery and sculptor Charles Hook. In the Spring of 2008, the first National Outdoor Sculpture Competition was launched and was juried by Debora LaGrasse. The exhibition originally featured 17 sculptures by artists from around the country. Nine of these can still be viewed in Railroad Square today.

In February of 2019, a portion of the Sculpture Garden was relocated to make way for the Hyatt Hotel now located at the entrance to the Railroad Square Art District. Community members worked alongside 621 Gallery & the Boynton-Kaye family to move and re-install the sculptures throughout the Arts District. After the sculptures were moved, assessments were made of the conditions of the sculpture collection. That same year, we began working to save the most at-risk sculptures from deteriorating–– Leading to three successful restorations and a fourth yet to be completed.

The Charles Hook Memorial Sculpture Garden is a gallery that does not have walls. As part of a plan to bring more visitors into the heart of the Arts District, Railroad Square and 621 Gallery are planning to expand the outdoor exhibition platforms with a rotation of contemporary works to be on display around the Railroad Square Art Garden.

As a gallery with a rich history, we aim to celebrate that through stewardship of the existing sculptures within the park. With new opportunities on the horizon, we will continue to support artwork that is contemporary in content as well as execution, and advocate for greater representation of outdoor sculpture made by artists of today.

Charles Hook

Charles Hook studied sculpture and architecture at the University of Kentucky and received his MFA in Sculpture from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Hook’s large-scale, abstract metal sculptures have been exhibited around Tallahassee in locations such as Innovation Park, Tallahassee Community College, Premier Health and Fitness, and St. John’s Episcopal Church. He taught workshops in the United Kingdom, Peru, and Bosnia which has given him international recognition for his work as an artist and educator. He taught at Heron School of Art in Indianapolis and was an Assistant Professor at Wichita State University until 1981 when he began teaching at Florida State University. Hook was a founding member of the 621 Gallery. It is here that he established international fame for his cast Iron program. Hook was integral in bolstering interest in the process of casting with live iron pours happening in Railroad Square for the public to witness, followed by a pig roast.

Charles Hook died on March 17, 2008, after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 59. On March 6th, the Charles Hook Sculpture Garden at 621 Gallery was dedicated in the artist’s honor at the Railroad Square Art District where we provide stewardship over three of his sculptural works.

In the words of Charles Hook…

I still hear the sound of the wolf in the wind

See wilde eyes shining in the moonlight beyond the smoke and stream

I never wanted to grow up

Living for a future that’s already here

Believing in promises made out of steel

Surveying acres of some time and something

Broken circles, broken thoughts, singing my simple lyrics to a tune yet unheard.

Side pipes roaring, tires whining

Making right or not making it at all

Running the high side or backed up to the wall.

I still hear the song.

Description

Wood + Partners, Inc. and the Florida State University Master Craftsman Studios have come together to create a comprehensive Sculpture Garden renovation plan. The plan includes landscape and lighting improvements and sculpture conservation. The sculpture garden will function as an outdoor exhibition space for permanent and rotating artwork

Current Renovation

Steel is the primary material for the sculptures on display around Railroad Square. It is a material that is also used in skyscrapers, automobiles, excavators, soup cans, and the warehouse that 621 Gallery inhabits. On an atomic level, it is a combination of iron and a small amount of carbon. However common it has become, this material has shaped modern life like no other. It can be welded, cast, forged, riveted, heated, bent, and shaped into many dazzling things. The one flaw that it has, is its ability to react with the oxygen in our atmosphere. This combination of iron and oxygen creates iron oxide and is commonly known as rust. This same reaction takes place every second and helps our bodies distribute oxygen through our blood but is a death sentence for our collection of sculptures.

Some of the sculptures around Railroad Square are composed of a special kind of steel that is supposed to form rust and is called weathering steel, or COR-TEN. Two of Charles Hook’s sculptures on display in Railroad Square are made from this material. They are titled Battleship and Iron Warrior. These sculptures can rust a little and maintain their strength and will not need any additional surface treatments to be maintained.

Weathering steel is a different material from what Andy McLachlin’s Untitled 3 is composed of. Like most outdoor sculptures, it is composed of a product called mild steel. This material is cheaper and more commonly available to artists but requires a surface treatment in order to protect it from the effects of rusting. Compromising holes can be found in the structure which will have to be repaired using new sections of metal. It is important that we act swiftly to restore this work of art before it is lost. Since 2019, 621 Gallery has been working with Railroad Square, volunteers, and local businesses to restore and rejuvenate the legacy and the luster of the art district’s collection of public sculptures.

We proceeded with sandblasting which eliminates the rust and leaves the sculpture in its bare metal form. This provides a window of opportunity to add new sections of material where the rust has compromised the structural integrity of the sculpture. The final step is to protect the steel from rusting again by applying a protective coating or paint. So far 621 Gallery has been able to restore the following three sculptures: Charles Hook’s T-Rail, and Andy McLachlin’s Untitled 1 (located near Tallahassee Rock Gym) , and Untitled 2 (located between Otherside Vintage & Mickee Faust).

The restoration is heavily dependent on donations and volunteer work. Scott Rains, from Blue’s Sandblasting, donated paint and rust removal services. Ron Knight from Corrosion Protection & Solution pledged to donate a gallon of Quick Tan, a rust inhibitor. Sherman William pledged to donate paint and primer to this project as well. Lee Berger donated time & skills to document this process through videography.

Donations from the above-mentioned and small monetary donations from gallery visitors have contributed to the progress of this project thus far. However, more in-kind and monetary donations are necessary to restore these treasured works and keep them maintained.

Please consider donating today.

Participate

In order to succeed, this project needs support from dedicated community members like you! The 621 Gallery is looking for volunteers to help tend to the Sculpture Garden as well as cash and in-kind donations to sustain the garden throughout the year. All contributions to The 621 Gallery are tax deductible. Contact Executive Director Cynthia Hollis at (850) 224-6163 or 621galleryinc@gmail.com for more information.

Sponsor

Sponsor a Sculpture

  • $3,500
  • Logo on granite sculpture plaque for two years
  • Recognition on Sculpture Garden entrance sign, print and online maps
  • Signage on Gallery sponsorship wall for two years
  • Free logo link on the website and in e-newsletters for two years
  • $250 Art Bucks (used like cash towards the purchase of art)
  • 10 memberships to The 621 Gallery
  • 25% discount on facility rentals
  • One free facility rental

Sponsor a Seat

  • $2,500
  • Logo on Sculpture Garden bench
  • Recognition on Sculpture Garden entrance sign, print and online maps
  • Signage on Gallery sponsorship wall for one year
  • Free logo link on the website for one year
  • $100 Art Bucks
  • 5 memberships to The 621 Gallery
  • 25% discount on facility rentals

Iron

  • $1,500
  • Recognition on Sculpture Garden entrance sign, print and online maps
  • Signage on Gallery sponsorship wall for one year
  • Free logo link on the website for one year
  • $50 Art Bucks
  • 3 memberships to The 621 Gallery
  • 20% discount on facility rentals

Steel

  • $500
  • Signage on Gallery sponsorship wall for one year
  • Free logo link on the website for one year
  • $25 Art Bucks
  • 2 memberships to The 621 Gallery
  • 15% discount on facility rentals

621 Gallery is currently seeking businesses to sponsor or to donate in-kind, a mobile welding unit, sandblasting services, epoxy paint, concrete services & material, landscaping services, and outdoor lighting equipment. Monetary donations of any size are welcomed and appreciated.

If you are interested in supporting this project, please contact Lauren Baker, Executive Director via 621galleryinc@gmail.comor by phone at (850) 224-6163,

Special Thanks

The Boyton-Kaye Family

Railroad Square Art District

Charles Hook, Founding 621 Gallery Board Member

Debora LeGrasse, Founding 621 Gallery Board Member

Angie Lewis Barry, Former 621 Gallery Board Member

Denise Drury, Former Executive Director, 621 Gallery

Ira Hill, Sculptor and lead of the First Restoration Project

Sine Murray, Landscape Designer

Mark Dickson, Former 621 Gallery Board Member, Sculptor & Consultant

Micheal West, Sculptor

‘Keith’ Minor Bloodsworth

Ken Bernhard, Former RRSQ Facilities Manager

Scott and Angie Rains, Sponsors, Blue’s Sandblasting

Darren Chambers, Sponsor, Sherwin Williams

Richard Ensor, Current 621 Board President & Leader in current Sculptor Renovation Project

Lauren Baker, Current Executive Director

All of the volunteers & community members who have helped along the way.

Thank you.

Layout

The design for the entry area creates a formal sculpture garden with a meandering walking train and outdoor community classroom. Crosswalks with special paving connect the two garden areas. A new 5′ sidewalk improves the pedestrian link between the sculpture garden and Railroad Avenue. The landscape design will create an effective landscape buffer from adjoining land uses and provide an attractive setting. The sculpture garden when lit will become a dramatic and engaging night time experience for visitors to the Gaines Street area.

 

The design for this area will create a matrix of sculpture and open space for passive use and recreation. The “Iron Field” can be used for special events and other community purposes. The landscape design will improve views into the space and create an effective buffer for the adjacent railway. The sculptures when lit will provide exciting ambience for evening events at Railroad Square.

Sculpture Archive

Charles Hook

Nomad

Painted Steel

1982

From the Collection of Julia Hook

Charles Hook

Fernis

Painted Steel

2007

Permanent Collection

Charles Hook

Iron Warrior

Steel

1984

Permanent Collection

Charles Hook

T-Rail

Painted Steel

1988

Permanent Collection

Charles Hook

Battlecruiser

Steel

1981

Permanent Collection

Deborah LaGrasse

All Seeing Eye

Steel and Cast Iron

2001

Permanent Collection

Travis Giddings

Shell Form

Steel

1986

Permanent Collection

Andy McLaughlin

Untitled 3

Steel and Plastic

1989

Permanent Collection

Andy McLaughlin

Untitled

Painted Steel

1990

Permanent Collection

Andy McLaughlin

Untitled 2

Steel

1989

Permanent Collection

Andy Light

Fly Away Too

Steel

2006

$12,000

Durant Thompson

Mjolnir

Steel, Wood & Found Objects

2005

$8,500

Doug Barton

Mountin an Offensive

Cast Iron & Fabricated Steel

2008

$4,000

Michael Cottrell

Valence

Steel

2007

$5,000

John Raulerson

Time Flies

Steel, Iron & Bronze

2008

$7,000

James Davis

This is Something We Had to go Through

Steel & Cast Iron

2004-2005

$10,000

Mark Dickson

Wind Jammer

Welded Hollow Core Steel

2007

$9,000