After years in storage, a repaired and restored 1970s-era sculpture is reintroduced to Palmer Park

What’s happening: After nearly 20 years in storage and, eventually, repair, Barry Lehr’s “Ascension” sculpture has been returned to Palmer Park. Councilmember Angela Whitfield-Calloway joined representatives from the city’s General Services Department and the People for Palmer Park nonprofit for an unveiling ceremony celebrating the sculpture’s return on Wednesday, May 31.

"Ascension" by Barry Lehr. (Facebook)What it is: The 700-pound steel sculpture was first installed in 1977 before its eventual removal after falling into disrepair nearly two decades ago. Created as part of Barry Lehr’s time in the MFA program at the University of Michigan, “Ascension” was initially designed with three moving pieces that would rotate in the wind before the city forced its redesign for safety reasons, making the sculpture a stationary one. Its iconic yellow paint job would be repainted purple and blue in the late 1990s; it returns to Palmer Park in its original eye-catching yellow.

How it happened: The restoration of “Ascension” and its reintroduction to Palmer Park comes courtesy of the city’s Blight to Beauty program, a wide-ranging beautification program that includes an emphasis on installing more public artworks in city parks. Earlier in May, city officials celebrated the unveiling of the “Path of Life” sculpture at Riverside Park. Another public artwork is expected to be announced for Viola Liuzzo Park later this summer.

What they’re saying: "We are delighted to have the Ascension Sculpture back home at Palmer Park," says People for Palmer Park President Stacy Varner. "This sculpture is a wonderful example of why people love this park. We are a family park, one for all to enjoy. A park that provides not only options in recreational sports but also one that now has programs and events for those that enjoy the arts, thanks to the hard work of the volunteers of the non-profit organization, People for Palmer Park."

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.