Public Artwork in Lucy Larcom, Kerouac Parks Restored in Lowell

July 16, 2018 GMT

LOWELL -- If you take a walk through Lowell’s Lucy Larcom and Kerouac parks, you’ll notice the public art pieces in both community spaces have been spruced up.

Local conservator Joannie Bottkol worked with five National Park Service staff members last month to clean the several granite sculptures at Lucy Larcom Park, including the signature 14-hour clock. Employees with Skylight Studios, a Woburn-based conservation firm, cleaned and repainted the metal sculpture at the park.

At the Jack Kerouac Park on Bridge Street, employees from Skylight Studios pressure washed the Jack Kerouac Commemorative which features excerpts from the late writer’s works.

This restoration of some of the city’s decades-old public art was the focus of a recent collaborative effort between the National Park Service, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, and couple Paul Marion and Rosemary Noon.

“It’s important because these are in public spaces,” said Laurel Racine, Chief of Cultural Resources for Lowell National Historical Park. “They’re intended to put the history, the art, the culture of Lowell into a good light, so it’s important to keep them in good repair so that people feel good about the spaces -- so that visitors are impressed with Lowell’s public art collection.”

The restoration work of Ellen Rothenberg’s 1996 sculptures “Industry, Not Servitude” at Lucy Larcom Park was made possible through a $5,000 donation to the Greater Lowell Community Foundation from Marion and Noon, a longtime Lowell couple who recently moved away from the city. The foundation assists donors like Marion and Noon to address different needs throughout the city, including projects related to the arts.

“We saw there was a need to do the conservation restoration work after so many years,” Marion, a fifth generation Lowellian, said. “We thought it was important to contribute something to help get things rolling.”

Jay Linnehan, president & CEO of the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, said the organization was happy to help in this effort.

“The ultimate goal of the Greater Lowell Community Foundation is to improve the quality of life for the people who live, work, and play in our area and I think public art is a major piece of that,” Linnehan said.

In addition to Marion and Noon’s contribution, the National Park Service also matched the donation, paying for the conservation of the sculptures at the Lucy Larcom Park and supplying five of its staff members for a day to work with the conservator, plus the materials needed for the project.

Of Skylight Studios’ work on the Jack Kerouac Commemorative, Racine said “they discovered that there was biological growth in the letters on the commemorative memorial which was making it harder to read the inscribed writing of Jack Kerouac.” The project on the Kerouac was done in time for the memorial’s 30th anniversary in October 2018, according to National Park spokesman Phil Lupsiewicz.

Marion said he and his wife feel very connected to the public art in Lowell, having been involved with the collection since the 80s and 90s. He said his family has been in Lowell since the 1880s, and his wife’s family has been in the city even longer -- since the 1870s.

“We haven’t been back in the past couple of weeks in order to look in person but I’ve seen photos and the restoration work looks to be outstanding and we’re very pleased with the results,” Marion said. “We really encourage everybody to maintain a very energetic stewardship of the public art collection.”

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