COLUMBIA, SC — Busted Plug Plaza, the four-story sculpture that has stood well, leaned for more than a decade in a parking lot owned by AgFirst Farm Credit Bank, is getting a new home.
That is, when the new locale is determined.
AgFirst is donating the fire hydrant, designed by artist Blue Sky at an angle to suggest a car had slammed into it, to the city of Columbia. The company, which provides services and loans to other financiers who loan directly to farmers, will also donate $25,000 to relocate the 40-foot piece of art currently on Taylor Street.
The deal with the city for the sculpture comes as AgFirst prepares to move into its new headquarters on Main Street. Putting Busted Plug at the new site the former Bank of America building isnt feasible, Ann-Lamar Tuten, an AgFirst spokeswoman said.
It couldnt go with us, she said. Were donating the Busted Plug to the city so that it can be relocated to a more visible location with more room.
Mired in the relocation talk is another piece of art by Blue Sky, one that cant be moved easily. What happens to Tunnelvision, the 50-by-75-foot mural on the AgFirst building?
We dont have an answer for that at this time, said Tuten, who declined to say what will happen to the current facility where AgFirst has operated since 1925.
Councilman Moe Baddourah said he began the Busted Plug negotiations with AgFirst in July.
Ive always thought the fire hydrant was part of the citys arts even though its on private property, he said. Its not getting enough viewing. We thought we could put it in another location where it can get more visitors.
The fire hydrant is made from aluminum and weighs more than 9,800 pounds. The entire Busted Plug structure weighs more than 700,000 pounds. The connected plumbing allows it to have water leaking from its side and shooting up from its base.
The city has yet to settle on a new home for the piece, and Baddourah said he was open to suggestions.
I dont mind getting a little more feedback from residents about where they would like to put the hydrant, he said.
One place that has been discussed is the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, already the location of a First Responders Remembrance Memorial that features steel beams from the World Trade Center. Another location is Finlay Park. Once a new site is determined, Busted Plug will be relocated there, Baddourah said.
Were not going to take it down and put it in storage, he said.
Blue Skys wife, Lynn, who ran Blue Sky Gallery in Five Points for 22 years before it closed last year, said the artist doesnt want Busted Plug to become scrap metal.
Blues biggest concern is that they cant find a proper place for it and it will be in storage and it will get trashed, she said. Thats the most important part. He just so worried that theyll say, Oh, well find a place for it later.
The future of Tunnelvision, the 37-year-old mural that presents the illusion of looking through a tunnel carved from rock at a descending sun in the distance, could remain uncertain long after AgFirst decides what to do with the property it currently occupies. Baddourah said he has already lobbied on the murals behalf.
We professionally requested that Tunnelvision would stay where it is, he said.
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Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.