By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The backward lean of a huge sculpture in Opechee Park, “Giant Indian – The Defiant One,” has become so bad that the city has had to prop it up with a big wooden pole.
The 36-foot, 12-ton red oak piece depicts the face and headdress of a Native American man. Peter Wolf Toth, the artist who created it 32 years ago, recommended the additional support and the city quickly propped it up.
“We thought it was better to be safe than sorry,” city Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Dunleavy said.
He made a plea in June for contributions to save the structure.
“It hasn't been a strong response,” he said Friday.
Estimated repair costs and related expenses are $7,000. About $1,000 in donations have been received.
“At some point we may approach the City Council for additional funding if we fall short of what we need for funding,” Dunleavy said.
A couple of exterior sections have fallen into disrepair, but the main problem is inside, where deterioration from rot and insects is causing the sculpture to lean back on interior supports. The city has put a fence behind the statue as a precaution to keep people away.
If nothing is done, it could eventually fall or have to be removed.
Toth has volunteered to supervise repairs, which would include hollowing out the back of the statue, installing more interior supports and replacing rotten material with wood-colored fiberglass.
He has done similar sculptures in every state as part of his “Whispering Giants” series, and has had to make such repairs elsewhere.
Toth fled his native Hungary as a child. He has said he views his art work as a gift to America in return for the gift of freedom he received from this country. A sculpture he created in Hawaii in 1988 allowed him to complete his goal of placing one in each of the 50 states.
To help out, contributions can be made out to the City of Laconia and either dropped off at the Laconia Community Center or mailed to Laconia Parks and Recreation, Native American Sculpture Fundraiser, 306 Union Avenue, Laconia, NH 03246.
The Opechee Park Indian statue had to be propped up recently for fear deteroration will result in it falling over. Donations to fix the artwork have been slow to come in. (Rick Green/Laconia Daily Sun)
- Written by Rick Green
- Category: Local News
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