Wiscasset throws out ‘HESPER’ sculpture; artist upset

Posted:  Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 8:00am
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A PVC sculpture spelling out the name Hesper suffered a fate similar to the old schooner it was made to commemorate. Wiscasset native Nick Dalton, the sculpture’s designer and builder, was upset after learning it had been removed by the public works department and destroyed.

Dalton asked selectmen Tuesday night, Dec. 5 what the rush was in taking it down. The sculpture was erected last May on the shore overlooking the former site of the Hesper and Luther Little, last of the four-masted schooners. Dalton referred to it as an artistic tribute to the old ships he and so many others fondly remember.’

Select board chair Judy Colby said the public works department was directed to remove the sculpture only after Dalton had been contacted and told it had to come down.

The board approved its display from May 1 until Oct 1. On Oct. 23, public works removed the white, six-foot high by 24-foot long sculpture and its working water fountain.

A transfer station employee told the Wiscasset Newspaper, two members of the town crew brought the sculpture to the station in pieces that were disposed of in the demolition bin.

“It was the town’s right to remove it,” Colby told Dalton.

Selectman Katharine Martin-Savage attempted to contact Dalton through his employer informing him the town was going to remove the sculpture if he didn’t. “It was your responsibility,” she said, telling Dalton he should have contacted the town office if he needed more time in removing it.

“I feel badly this had to happen,” she said.

Dalton responded the irony was absolutely fitting considering the fate of the schooner Hesper. The landmark schooner was demolished in 1998 along with the Luther Little and hauled away to the landfill.

When contacted Dec. 6, Dalton said he was heartsick over the sculpture’s loss. After hearing of its removal, he went to the public works department hoping it had been taken there. Instead he learned it had been taken to the transfer station.

“By the time I got there it was completely gone – all of it including the stainless steel drinking fountain,” he said. “If they had told me their intention was to take it to the transfer station, I would have made every effort to have taken it down.”

Dalton put the sculpture’s value at $4,000. He said he plans to seek restitution from the select board for the sculpture’s loss, adding he wasn’t able to recover any part of it including the stainless steel fountain which cost $300.

The project was funded through a “Kindling Fund” grant administered through SPACE Gallery of Portland.

Dalton built it over several weeks. It was visible from the Davey Bridge. A brief ceremony was held to dedicate it during this summer’s first Art Walk.

He said response to the project had been overwhelmingly positive from residents and visitors alike.