“Prairie Spirit,” the sculpture representing Brookfield’s connection to the area’s old prairie landscape and dedicated by the Brookfield Beautification Commission in May 2015 in memory of late Public Works Director Al Kitzer, is in the shop for some unexpected TLC.
The metal sculpture was removed last week from its base in the 8800 block of Brookfield Avenue and taken to a local powder-coating business after it unexpectedly began to show signs of rust.
The rust apparently is related to the way the piece was welded together, said Brookfield Beautification Commission Chairwoman Sarah Thomas, and it caught everyone by surprise.
“The artist didn’t think it’d happen either,” Thomas said. “But we knew we wanted to stop the rust from progressing.”
According to Nick Greifer, the village of Brookfield’s director of community and economic development, it’s going to cost about $1,600 to have the sculpture sandblasted, cleaned and powder-coated. The Brookfield Kiwanis Club donated $200 toward the project.
The sculpture, which was commissioned for about $6,000, should be refurbished and back on its mosaic-covered, cylindrical concrete base sometime in September, Thomas said. Some minor repairs were made to the base earlier this year.
Work will be done by Powder Coating Specialists Inc., a firm located on 47th Street in Brookfield since 2009 and owned by Jim and Krissy Dziewior.
The company does powder-coating projects for both residential (think patio furniture, radiator covers, window-well grates and metal stair railings) and commercial customers. While the municipal job is rarer, it’s not unheard of — the company also is powder-coating a pair of cannons that serve as a war memorial in Lyons.
According to Krissy Dziewior, after the Brookfield sculpture is sand-blasted and steam-cleaned, it’ll be treated with a rust inhibitor and then get two layers of powder coating.
“It’ll look brand new,” Dziewior said, “and the powder coating lasts a lot longer than paint.”
While the sculpture, as originally installed, had a stainless-steel look to it, when it returns, it will have a champagne-colored patina. The color was chosen by members of the Brookfield Beautification Commission.
“It’ll give it a nice luster, so it’ll look a little more finished,” Dziewior said.
The village will also make one more adjustment to the artwork before the sculpture goes back up for good — water will be able to drain out of the small pool created on top of the concrete base by the circular metal footing of the sculpture.
As a result, it’s unlikely there will be a place for impromptu flocks of floating rubber ducks to appear under the statute after it rains, as has been happening, courtesy of the regulars from Loca Mocha coffee shop across the street.
Thomas said the commission is still planning more public art installations for the village.
“We really want to make a difference and put a lot of beautiful art in this town,” Thomas said.