Friday, May 14, 2010

Appleton Houdini sculpture to disappear

APPLETON — The ongoing renovation of the Appleton Art Center will uproot the massive metal sculpture that has anchored Houdini Plaza since 1985, reports The Appleton Post-Crescent.

"Metamorphosis," donated to the city by Boldt Development Corp., will be put into storage sometime in the next month for at least a few months as the 1-acre plaza is reworked.

"We don't know specifically when it is going to be moved, but we would like to have it removed by the time the downtown farm market begins in the middle of June," Parks and Recreation Director Bill Lecker said.

"Metamorphosis" sits atop a red-brick platform that resembles a stage. The abstract metal box is balanced on the point of one of its corners and draped with a padlocked chain. The Richard C. Wolter sculpture, a tribute to illusionist Harry Houdini's famous trick in which he escaped from a chain-bound trunk, stands more than 14 feet tall and weighs about 4.5 tons. The plaza marks where Houdini's childhood home once stood.

Lecker said the Parks and Recreation Department is working with Appleton Downtown Inc., a downtown advocacy group that sponsors the farmers market and other events in Houdini Plaza, to discuss a new location for the sculpture.

Plans to move the sculpture began with the announcement that the front entrance of the adjacent Appleton Art Center would be moved from the 100 block of W. College Avenue to the west side of the art center that faces Houdini Plaza, Lecker said.

The new entrance, built on land donated to the art center by The Boldt Co., extends 30 feet into the plaza, and encroaches on space that used to be set aside for the farmers market and other outdoor events.

"We thought there may be a need to offset the loss in property to the art center," Lecker said.

Although the sculpture's future site remains unknown, Lecker said the original renovation plans for Houdini Plaza, drawn up before the art center project was planned, called for the sculpture to remain in the park.

"Right now, we are looking for the best way to move it," Lecker said.


  1. Uh oh ... "plans to discuss a new location for the sculpture".

    I'm trepidatious because these terms were used once here for a sculpture we had in the centre of town. It went missing for quite some time then turned up under a railway overpass. I think it's still there to this day.

    Mind you , most people had had it in for this sculpture for some time. Might not be the case for this one.

  2. Sorry, & nothing against the artist or the donators, but I think that looks really tacky. I'm a Houdini fan, but I feel the bust of Houdini to be much more appropriate. Besides. Only us magicians really would get what that is supposed to represent anyway. The general public who actually utilize that park, by & large, would be clueless.JMHO. Whitt Smith