GREENSBORO — Recent LeBauer Park visitors and passers-by have wondered: Where is artist Janet Echleman’s massive aerial net sculpture that hung above the downtown park?
Titled “Where We Met,” the colorful piece was removed as planned in November, to be stored away from winter’s harsh elements.
Visitors expected to see it again this spring. But as Memorial Day weekend approaches, the sculpture has yet to return.
“No one wants this sculpture in place more than I do,” said Rob Overman, the executive director of Greensboro Downtown Parks, who has fielded plenty of inquiries.
The short answer: A sculpture rope needed repair, and a technical issue with its hoist and pulley system needed to be resolved.
Overman said he hopes the sculpture will return to the park in the second or third week of June.
Echelman’s net sculptures have decorated select urban landscapes in the United States and abroad. They have ranked atop Oprah Winfrey magazine’s “50 Things That Will Make You Say ‘Wow!’ ”
The net of blue, red, yellow and orange made its debut when LeBauer Park opened in August 2016. It has billowed above its Great Lawn, as the largest outdoor art installation in the Southeast. Multicolored LED illumination lights it at night.
When the sculpture was being lowered in November, a technical issue with the control panel for its hoist and pulley system caused minor damage to one of the net’s support ropes, Overman said.
The park sent the net to its manufacturer, Diamond Nets in Washington state, for repairs.
But the company had a backlog of work, and it was three months before it could repair the support rope.
In the meantime, park contractor Frank L. Blum Construction has worked to deal with the technical issues in the design of the hoist and pulley system. It was custom-designed for the park and for the Echelman piece, making parts more difficult to come by and repairs more complicated, Overman said.
“It’s an unique piece, and when you encounter problems, the fix is often unique as well,” he said. “It would be great if we could run to Home Depot to get the parts we need, but that’s not an option for us.”
Overman said that he doesn’t know how much repairs will cost, but that private funding — not taxpayer dollars — will cover them.
The net itself has been repaired and is on its way back home. Blum continues to work with park officials to resolve the technical issue with the hoist and pulley system.
Reinstallation will take several hours, and crews will cordon off the area for safety, Overman said. Park officials will plan a welcome-back celebration after that, on a date to be announced.
“It’s certainly an iconic piece of art work and one of most popular pieces in the park,” said Overman, who admits losing sleep over its absence. “We understand completely the desire to have it back.”