West Wichita lost what was perhaps its quirkiest public art piece last month, the victim of a particularly strong wind gust.
“Passiflora Sorma,” the enigmatic sculpture towering above the intersection of Central and Zoo Boulevard, was blown off of its pole last month after nearly 15 years of enduring weather conditions, according to the city.
It was reported to the city and returned to Century II for possible repair or replacement on April 3.
“It’s one of my favorite pieces – I’d like to see it go back up if at all possible,” said John D’Angelo, director of the city’s Division of Arts and Culture. “We’re doing an assessment of what it might take to fix it.”
The sculpture, built and installed by artists Chris Frank, Ed Langston and Tim Berg in 2003, had been the subject both of drivers’ curiosity and consternation.
As recently as March, reader emails had been sent to The Eagle, trying to sleuth out the identity of the odd-looking sculpture, which is absent any commemorative plaque or identifying markers whatsoever.
The Eagle caught up with Frank in March, who at that point expressed surprise that the approximately 85-pound sculpture was “still mostly intact, considering the Kansas weather.” Frank now lives in St. Louis.
It’s currently unclear whether the sculpture will return to its rightful place atop the pole at Central and Zoo Boulevard or if a new sculpture could be commissioned, D’Angelo said.
“We’re reaching out to Chris to take a look at it and see … if it’s worth repairing or if it’s damaged beyond that,” he said. “We don’t know at this point.”
“Passiflora Sorma” was installed in June 2003 at a cost of $300 to the city. The city at that time was redesigning the intersection of Central and Zoo Boulevard, and the design incorporated a public art piece.
It was designed to look like a passionflower bloom. It was welded together using various materials scavenged from across the city – similar to how popular sculptor Mike Miller now creates works.
“I guess it was finally done blooming,” Frank told The Eagle on Tuesday.
The three artists are also responsible for a Cor-Ten sculpture of a praying mantis outside the Sedgwick County Extension Office at 21st and Ridge.