Lewes wants historic tiles from art pieces

Temporary sculptures to be removed Oct. 3
September 30, 2022

The Absent Monuments and Armillary Empowerment Spheres in Lewes’ George H.P. Smith Park will be removed and transported back to artist Rose DeSiano Monday, Oct. 3.

The sculptures played a key role Lewes’ summer activities, including the inaugural Juneteenth celebration held at the park. The temporary art pieces contain historical photographs of groups of people marginalized throughout the lengthy history of Lewes. Lewes African American Heritage Commissioner Trina Brown-Hicks, who also helps to run the Facebook page Memories of Lewes, would like to work with DeSiano to keep the pieces containing Lewes-specific pictures.

Brown-Hicks, along with local churches and community leaders, provided DeSiano with photographs to use on the sculptures. She thought there could be a way to preserve the tiles. It is her understanding pieces often end up in storage after they are displayed because they are leased and not sold.

“It was so specific to our area, that's why I was asking if there's a possibility that somehow that can be preserved and saved,” Brown-Hicks said.

City Manager Ann Marie Townshend noted that in the past, public art pieces have gone on tour, so to speak, after their Lewes exhibition. Townshend and Brown-Hicks both agree these pieces are unique because of the local ties etched into the artwork. 

The pieces were the second in a series of three public art exhibitions the Lewes Public Art Committee installed in 2022. George H.P. Smith was the first African American to become mayor of Lewes, and the sculptures, representing several groups of minorities, have been on display in George H.P. Smith Park since spring. The Absent Monuments, whose bases contain the tiles in question, were centrally located for the inaugural Juneteenth celebration. Brown-Hicks said the Absent Monuments and Armillary Empowerment Spheres were popular attractions during the summer season.

Lewes Public Art Captain Nancy Leeman said DeSiano is not willing to part with the tiles at this time. During the Sept. 28 public art committee meeting, Chair Cliff Diver said DeSiano has not decided whether she will add the pieces to her archives.


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