Two-month makeover of the ‘Calder’ begins

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Crews began prepping the La Grande Vitesse with fencing and scaffolding for a two-month makeover.

That's the "Calder" sculpture, which is what most of Grand Rapids calls it. La Grande Vitesse is a rough, French translation of "grand rapids." Alexander Calder created the stabile, 50 years ago.

The restoration is the first complete makeover for the "Calder." Crews are removing 20 layers of paint down to the bare metal over the first month of the project. Bolts will be tightened and crews will weld the metal beams where needed.  Then, the artwork will be painted over the 2nd month of the makeover.  The whole project is expected to be completed by September 30.

Calder Plaza will remain open during the restoration. The City of Grand Rapids is funding the project, expected to cost about $300,000, with partnerships with the Calder Foundation, Dave Cole Decorators, Dixon Engineering and Mack Art Conservation.

The City of Grand Rapids commissioned Alexander Calder to create the sculpture in 1967. It was the first public art work to be funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.  The rest of the funding for the sculpture came from private fundraising.  The La Grande Vitesse was dedicated on June 14, 1969.

Phase 1 of the project reimagining the Calder Plaza is scheduled to begin in 2020.

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