Grand Avenue bridge art approved
Spencer Park Board members drove to Sutherland Thursday night and liked what they saw.
The board, along with City Manager Bob Fagen, met with commissioned glass artists Mark, Jeanne and Seth Bogenrief in their Sutherland-based studios to preview the Art Deco glass pieces scheduled to adorn the Grand Avenue bridge in Spencer.
Seth Bogenrief described the process he, his parents, fellow artisan Jim Berberich and other designers have undergone to date with the project. Bogenrief also acknowledged this is his first time working with dichroic glass -- which was developed by the aerospace industry for NASA and is used on satellites -- on a "major project."
"I've done a few other sample projects with it, but this is my first big attempt," he admitted.
For the project they're embarking upon, Bogenrief explained the glass needs to be heated to 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit for a 17 1/2-hour cycle.
"Each piece that goes into the bridge has that same firing cycle," Bogenrief said. "Since I only have one kiln, it's been about trying to manage time and get as much done as humanly possible and keep that kiln running."
In the meantime, as the Grand Avenue bridge infrastructure nears completion, it will eventually host a monument on each of its corners. The four columns will each feature three octagons, for a total of 12 glass pieces on the bridge's ends. These designs will represent the areas of parks and recreation, commerce, education and agriculture. A blue Art Deco design will extend between the octagon pieces and neon lighting by fellow artist Louis "Tony" Curiel, of Spencer, has been approved to backlight the vertical monuments.
"We're about 50 percent (done now) with Mom and Dad's part and my part," Bogenrief said. "My part, though, is probably going to take me about two to three more weeks to wrap up."
As Spencer Parks and Recreation Director Delray Bredehoeft explained the foundations for the four bridge monuments have not yet been dug, he did indicate the monuments are currently setting in Omaha. To this bit of information, Mark Bogenrief mentioned he plans to travel to Omaha to get exact measurements for their glasswork, as well as see if he might be allowed to predrill the monuments for installation of the glass pieces.
"The installation shouldn't take that long," he assured board members.
"I think everything is turning out well," Seth Bogenrief added. " ... Hopefully we'll be ready for all the installation exactly when the bridge monuments are."
Installation of the Bogenriefs' handiwork is expected to occur around Sept. 1. The glass artwork will be safeguarded the younger Bogenrief explained.
"We're putting Lexon, which is a flexible plexiglass with an immense strength for the size of it, in front of all of the glass," he said. "That way, if a rock, vandals or any of that were to try and do anything to it, they'd have to really want to break the glass in order to break it. So, hopefully that should take care of any of the road damage or anything like that. And, that will make a nice, washable surface where they don't have to worry about getting anything on the glass itself."
With the board members' approval of what they saw in Sutherland last night, the Bogenriefs received a third $20,000 payment for their efforts to date. Additional $20,000 payments will be received when the glasswork is installed and when the Grand Avenue bridge project is completed. The total project, which is expected to cost $100,000, will be funded from Dvergsten Charitable Foundation and Community Attraction and Tourism grants received by Spencer.