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As Salt Lake building comes down, ‘The Gulls’ wait to fly again
Salt Lake City » Sculpture is in storage while performing arts center is under construction.

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Van Sant said he was unaware of the alteration.

No one in city government knows what happened to the 35 seagulls.

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"We looked. We said, ‘Let’s find those,’ " Thomas said. But no one did.

The remaining 65 seagulls were taken down this year and placed in cardboard boxes, which now sit in a storage room in the old Utah Theatre across the street. (The cricket is on Thomas’ desk at the Art Barn for safekeeping.)

Glen Richards, the Arts Council’s public arts project manager, said Metal Arts Foundry, of Lehi, will restore the 65 seagulls. Over the decades, some birds have become worn, while others have gathered what Richards called "two layers of patina" — the second one made of bird poop.

Thomas said the city intends to contact Van Sant about the sculpture and its restoration. Van Sant expressed surprise that officials didn’t call him before moving "The Gulls."

Salt Lake City has allocated $200,000 to recover and restore the sculpture, said Justin Belliveau, deputy manager of the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City. Less than 10 percent of that has been spent, he added.

It’s a bit early to say exactly how the sculpture will be included in the center’s design, said Jeffrey Berke, a spokesman for the project’s developer, Garfield Traub Swisher Development. After all, demolition is still being completed, and groundbreaking won’t happen until June.

"We want to find a location that is architecturally appropriate for an artwork of this size and historical relevance," Berke said. Other factors to be considered in placing the sculpture include preventing damage to the sculpture and ensuring it’s in a place where people can enjoy it.

Belliveau said the decision process should get under way in a couple of months.

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So while the performing arts center is being built — with a scheduled completion in June 2016 — the 65 seagulls wait.

The sculpture, Penfold said, "lives on, regardless of location. It’s got a life beyond the original location. It tells a story of the history of the city."

Van Sant said he is flattered that his work is being preserved beyond the life of the building for which it was made.

"I’m just grateful they’ve served this half-century of service," he said, "and none of them came off."


Twitter: @moviecricket

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