After nearly two decades as part of the City Hall landscape, a 20-foot-tall sculpture titled “Flight” is suddenly in the midst of a controversy.
In a split vote, the City Council decided last week that the sculpture should be moved to Fullerton Airport.
The decision, however, stirred a howl of protest from some citizens who want “Flight” to stay right where it was placed when it was dedicated in 1978.
Among those opposed to the move are people who served on the Fullerton Bicentennial Committee, created in the mid-1970s to find ways to commemorate the nation’s 200th anniversary. The panel spent two years working on 18 projects, including “Flight.”
“It was meant to represent nature and the elements of nature, and it was placed here purposely. It isn’t about airplanes,” Dorian Hunter, a former member of the committee, said Friday. “It’s for the whole city, not just the airport.”
The statue is a 5,000-pound steel, tin and aluminum piece that resembles a giant check mark. Sculptor Aldo Casanova said in a 1978 statement that he created it to suggest, in abstract terms, “man’s indomitable delving into the unknown.”
Council members Jan M. Flory, Peter Godfrey and Don Bankhead voted to move “Flight,” saying it would be more appropriate at the municipal airport than where it stands now: on a sloping lawn between City Hall and the Fullerton Public Library.
They propose declaring the sculpture a tribute to the late Roland Elder, the former airport director who was fond of the piece, and putting it where it would be more visible to passersby.
Hunter, however, said that many people contributed money to pay for the statue in memory of Pauline Nevius, a committee member who died before the work was completed. To rededicate the sculpture in someone else’s name would dishonor Nevius’ memory, she said.
Mayor Chris Norby and Councilwoman Julie Sa, voted against moving the statue when the issue first came up, citing the cost: $18,000.
The outcry that arose after the council voted to move the statue has members rethinking their positions, and City Hall sources said that another vote may be taken at Tuesday’s session.
Godfrey said Friday, though, that “the majority of people who appreciate that piece of sculpture feel that it is underutilized” where it stands now.
“It could be appreciated more,” he said, if it were moved to Commonwealth Avenue and Dale Street--in front of the airport.