WUFT News

“Big Max,” Sister Sculpture To French Fries Piece, Installed At Harn

By and on February 13th, 2014

The “Alachua” sculpture, better known as “French Fries,” is no longer alone on the University of Florida campus.

Artist John Raymond Henry, 70, created “Big Max,” a sculpture that weighs nearly 30,000 pounds. It was installed at UF’s Cultural Plaza by the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art on Tuesday. Henry is also the artist behind “Alachua.”

The new addition is named after Henry’s grandson, Max Barrett, according to the  Gainesville Sun. Barrett, 24, is following in his grandfather’s footsteps by pursuing a career as an artist in California.

The artwork is composed of a central steel beam resting on two other crossing beams, conveying a sense of being airborne or mobile. The legs measure 65 feet, 38 feet and 33 feet in length. The sculpture took 20 years to complete and cost between $100,000 and $150,000.

Former UF Trustee Earl Powell and his wife, Christy, donated the sculpture to the Harn. Henry said the Powells have been long-time supporters of his artwork. Unlike “Alachua,” the work was an independent piece Henry described as “a labor of love.”

Tami Wroath, director of marketing and public relations for the Harn, said the museum staff hopes the 33-foot-tall sculpture can further their collection of outside artwork.

“Eventually we want to have a sculpture walk outdoors,” Wroath said.

Henry said he’s glad his art is among sculptures created by familiar artists.

“It’s good to be among friends,” he said. “There’s a lot of good sculptures here.”

Wroath said visitors have been asking questions about the similarities between Henry’s two pieces. “Alachua” is located near Marston Science Library, which is by UF’s Century Tower.

“It’s great to have that connection with the same artist on campus,” Wroath said. “The Harn is further from the main campus, so we hope students will want to come visit.”

Though Henry lives in a different state, “Alachua” ties him to UF, and he said he has returned to see it several times. His 120,000-square-foot studio is located in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Claudia Sabin, a writer who wrote the catalog for “Alachua” nearly 30 years ago, said the site of “Big Max” is perfect.

“You can see that red point when driving up from Lake Alice; it’s really beautiful,” Sabin said. “Can’t you imagine all the little kids running around and playing through it after going through the butterfly garden? It’s just lovely.”

Henry said the purpose of the sculpture is to encourage people to see things from a new perspective.

“The hope is that people pay attention to how it goes together, how parts fit together and they start to see things in a little bit different way than they’ve seen them in the past,” he said.

Note: An earlier version of this story attributed alumni status to both Earl and Christy Powell. Mr. Powell is a former member of the Board of Trustees for the University.


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