Showalter Fountain fish restored; spitting water by Tuesday
More than 20 years after its mysterious disappearance following Indiana University's NCAA men's basketball championship in 1987, the stone fish missing from Bloomington's Showalter Fountain has been re-created and mounted in its original space.
The fountain depicts the birth of Venus as she rises from her clamshell -- surrounded by fish that are either dolphin, pickerel or pike, depending on who you ask. The new fish, which was designed and created by sculptor G. Scott Slocum, was installed by none other than Venus Bronze Works of Detroit, which in the past has been hired to restore other public art pieces on campus, including the Calder sculpture in front of the Musical Arts Center.
The two-ton Venus sculpture was originally created by Robert Laurent (1890-1970), a professor of sculpture in IU's Department of Fine Arts. Grace Montgomery Showalter donated the $13,500 sculpture and other portions of the fountain to IU, which was installed in front of the IU Auditorium in 1958. Showalter's gift included a maintenance endowment that came in handy for last week's restoration by Venus Bronze Works: repairs and cleaning totaled approximately $60,000.
After the fish was installed, Venus Bronze Works employees, led by company owner Georgio Gikas, coated the sculpture with a protective patina, to both shield it from the elements and make the color match with the other fish.
"Hopefully, it will come out pretty close to these," Slocum said, gesturing to the other fish last week during the installation. "If it's not exact, it will blend in. And it should be spitting water by Tuesday."
To see more pictures of the fountain restoration, visit http://homepages.indiana.edu/asset/page/normal/7549.html.