These are the notes from my attempts to save the sculpture of the Century of Light.
August 6, 2003
Golston of the Detroit Building Authority called and said that the
Century of Light sculpture must be moved by October. Did I
want it ?
question was overwhelming. No. I didn't want it. I wanted
it to remain public. I wanted to help the City Fathers see
that it would be a wonderful asset in some other, more appropriate
setting than Washington Boulevard where it had languished for over 20
August 7, 2003 I called Marilyn Wheaton who said I should
talk to Michelle Peron of College of Creative Studies (CCS) regarding their
August 8 Michelle Peron returned my call and said
she'd look into Peck Park potential and she referred me to Todd
Erickson. I called Benyl Golston and left word.
"left word" means I left a message on an answering machine often saying
what I wanted and leaving my phone number asking the party to call me. )
August 13, 2003
Marilyn Wheaton returned my call. I gave her Benyl Golston's number
she sounded agitated. She called back said Benyl Golston said that the Detroit Building Authority
commissioned and paid for it , therefore the Detroit Building Authority
could not dispose of it as they saw fit. I told Marilyn
that this was not true. The Eastern Michigan Electrical
Association commissioned and paid for it.
Marilyn Wheaton said she did not want to get into a "pissing contest " I
told her about VARA, the visual artist rights act. it
seemed to be news to her. and when I talked to Tom
Schoenith the day before he said he would put the Century of light at
the Roostertail Restauran. Marilyn Wheaton said Lou
Palivides ,the director of the Joe Louis Arena, seemed interested in
the Century of Light. Marilyn Wheaton said to give Benyl Golston
more time after she ,Benyl Golston, returns from vacation and Marilyn
Wheaton was sure she would find a placement
(The great blackout of 2003 (electrical service in much of Detroit was out for several days.)
18 2003 Benyl Golston is on vacation. I contacted Todd Erickson of CCS
Re: tech park and sent web page to him. Ely Benson, Benyl Goltson's
supervisor, said she will look into giving me something in writing
after talking to Parks and Recreation who she thinks it's something to
do with its acquisition. I talked to David Tobar of Hamilton
Anderson Architects, who said contracts have not been let yet but they
"Demo-ed" the Mandela to be "picked" and placed on the ground to be
moved off site.
August 19 Todd Erickson said that the University Cultural Center Association said no to Peck Park
Mason Ferry called to say he would like to visit the site and then discuss it.
August 25 I called E. Benson at the Detroit Building Association left word
Lou Palivides returned my call and said he was interested in the
Century of Light for Hart Plaza and would have Mr.
Tuskee call me to arrange a meeting to discuss the exact site and timing
8/27 I called E. Benson at the Detroit Building Authority and left word.
I called E. Benson twice and left word regarding maintenance and
condition in light of false reports that the Century of Light was not
I sent a photo-shopped image ( showing the C of L in front of the Detroit Science Center to Mason Ferry via e-mail
8/29 I called E. Benson and left word.
9/ ? I called E. Benson again. He was not in. won't be back until Tuesday
Lowell Boileau from the Farmington Arts Council called and requested
information on the availability of the Century of flight
for an intersection of high 696 and Orchard Lake Road
9/8 I called Benyl Golston. left word. 10 a.m. called Benyn Golston left word at 4:30 p.m.
9/9 called Benyl Golston left word at 9:30 a.m.
called Lou Palivides. He said he will return from Frankfurt Germany on
September 22 and will work on moving the sculpture to Hart
Plaza. He has talked to Rob Hill and E. Benson.
several locations in mind. He is not concerned with repair.
We can repair it after it's moved . I called Benyn Goltson and
relayed this information to her. We agreed a letter was
not needed and she opined that the Detroit Building Authority will
share the costs
9/12 Marilyn Wheaton called to say Hamilton Anderson said the artist should make arrangements to move the sculpture soon
gave Al all drawings and a 3-D model . He pointed out two sites at Hart Plaza under consideration
called Beyny Golston who said contracts were out but didn't know if
accepted and she was contacted by Cobo Hall who was interested in the
Century of Light and willing to pay for move
10/15 Tom Tuskee,
deputy director of Cobo Center, called and asked me to contact John
Kull and gave me his cell phone at Jenkins Construction company and
offer my expertise in moving the Century of Light which should be done
posthaste for storage until it could be installed in Spring of 2004
Davis Sedlik of Jenkins Construction called for advice on disassembly
and told me he cut off the lock to equipment (pump) room. I
called Jim Zalewski & Al Vasquez and Benyl Golston to alert
them. Al Vasquez said he would re-secure the room.
11/4 called Tom Tuskee who said Century of Light is down and safely in storage waiting for spring
April 5, 2004
Tom Tuskee left word . contacted Tom Tuskee who said Century of
Light was in work package whose funds were diverted to other project.
Call back in a month
5/01 Detroit news article on "Cobo cutbacks" revealed Lou Palivides was fired a month ago
Tom Tuskee who said the acting director, Glenn Blanton, wants an
opinion from Karen Dumas, director of the Detroit cultural
affairs, regarding placement of the sculpture. The decision
to install it in Hart Plaza is being reconsidered. I requested an
opportunity to inspect the Century of Light in storage at Jenkins
Construction and was assured the box of electronics were stored there
5/5/ 2004 called Tom Tuskee to follow up.
5/6 Tom Tuskee said John Kull is waiting for my call
contacted John Kull who said who said his carpenter will call me next
week and that the Mandela is stored under a tarp in their yard
and the box of electronics is at Cobo Hall and I should...
...contact Lynette Hill
5/20 contacted Lynnette Hill who said she would have the person who has the box contact me today or tomorrow
Shaw escorted Jim Zalewski and myself to inspect the box of electronics
stored in the "garage" in the underground of Hart Plaza.
Everything looked okay (see photos) except the wires to the lights from
the relay were cut in a manner that it appears that it will be
necessary to trace all the connections. In other words no numbers
or codes were apparent.
5/24 Dave Carpenter of Jenkins Construction
called and said I could visit the Century of Light anytime, but call
first to alert the staff next week. Dave asserts they did
number wires. Jenkins Construction is on Fenkel self of
6/11/04 Visited Century of Light with Jim
Zalewski at construction yard of Jenkins Construction on Finkel.
The sculpture is in good condition overall. It appears as if
seven years paint schedule was not adhered to and consequently some
electrical boxes and channel struts are rusted Though the electrical
cables are in very good shape. (see photos) and appear to be numbered
for easy matchup
8/? sent 2 videotapes to Karen Dumas.
8/23 called Tom Tuskee left word
8/30 Tom Tuskee said he will memo Karen Thomas at City cultural affairs and will call me next week left word
9/18 left word
9/24 left word
9/27 Called Karen Dumas of Department of culture arts and tourism, City of Detroit
9/28 called Karen Dumas & left word
9/29 called Karen Dumas & left word. I called Tom Tuskee who says he's busy. He'll get to it in two weeks
9/30 called Karen Dumas who said she would look into it. Sent e-mail link to Century of Light page.
I had e-mail difficulty in early October
10/24 left word with Karen Dumas
10/27 left word with Karen Dumas
11/17 left word with Karen Dumas
January 1/2005 sent registered letter to Karen Dumas
1/12/2005 Karen Dumas called me and said she wanted to return the Century of Light. to me.
said she couldn't find a site or a City department that was willing to
undertake the main expense. I asked her what she estimated the expense
at. She said she didn't know. And, no, she had not talked to the
principal of the performing
arts high school nor the planners of the River Walk Park
she had not...
the video. she said she would talk to those people and get back to
me. She said she would be meeting soon with Jenkins Construction
and would discuss storage.
6/05 called and emailed Karen Dumas for
follow up. Caroline Kieth returned the call and ask for a
recap - Detroit office of cultural affairs closed due to
budget. Keith recommended Dennis Sambala, Director of the Detroit
6/24/2005 phone call 877077 extension 8074
Howard Nash reports the Century of Light computer and plastic
globes are still in storage under Hart Plaza.
I called John Kull of
Jenkins and left a message that offered to remove sculpture from
his premises. Sent email to D. Sambala.
7/11 on Dennis Sambala 's recommendation, called Lucius Vassar at City Hall's Mayor Office. Left word.
send e-mail toDennis Sambala next
Al McAllister, Mr Vassar's assistant, said to call T. Frazier, Mr.
Field's assistant. The City wished to return the sculpture.
8/16 I finally reached Tracey Frazier who said she is awaiting information from the "D.E.G" and will call me on the 24th
8/24 Tracy Frazier called and said parks and recreation wants to be involved.
Tracy Frazier referred me to Lee Stevenson of the Department of
Recreation who said he had no dollars or personnel to help me.
8/29 through 9/6 Left mword with Tracy Frazier
Mrs. Fraser directed me to get with Mr. Stefansson to find a suitable
site, determined costs in the "DECG" will find the funds
to Al Stephenson, asked him to send me e-mail so I could send him links
regarding site issues for the Century of Light and that I would
call back in a couple of days.
9/13 No contact from Mr. Stevenson who was not due back in the office until monday.
9/11 Called Hart plaza maintenance to retrieve the sculpture's computer Lynn Shaw -
who has to check with Tom Tuskee
9/23 Called Lee Stephenson and left word. Called Lynn Shaw and left word.
9/27 Called Lee Stephenson and left word.
Lee Stephenson who says he discussed it with director and no suitable
site exists. T. Frazier says called Waymon Guillebeaux at the
DECG Department regarding proper storage of Century of Light
10/4 sent follow-up e-mail toWaymon Guillebeaux re: storage photo and links
10/10 left word with Waymon Guillebeaux and Cleveland Daily III.
Waymon Guillebeaux said a decision would be made soon.
Lynn Shaw called yesterday and said approval was granted for Jim
Zalewski to pick up the box containing the electronics.
10/15 Jim Zalewski picked up the box and noticed the radar was missing
11/17 Waymon Guillebeaux by e-mail said he needed more time and where would I like it delivered.
1118 contacted Mel Drumm of the Hands On museum in Ann Arbor who said they would accept it.
1118 Waymon Guillebeaux emailed that the e-mailed that the City would return the Century of Light to me
called John Kull at Jenkins who said he didn't think the mandela was at
the Finkel yard but he would check and call back. I calledLynn
Shaw who said she would ask Mr. Nash if it was under Hart Plaza and
2/13 called Waymon Guillebeaux who still is waiting.
4/18 called Waymon Guillebeaux left word
6/6 called Waymon Guillebeaux who said he would find the Century of Light mandela
called Waymon Guillebeaux who said Jenkins told him the yard
supervisor needed the space and so discarded the mandela and
Waymon Guillebeaux's boss asked Waymon . Guillebeauxbeau to write
"forensics" report to assign liability. I asked for a copy of the
Roger Malina, the executive
editor of M.I.T.'s Leonardo, the Journal of the International Society
for the Arts, Sciences and Technology asked me to write about being a
"pioneer" of electronics in sculpture. I told him at this stage
in my life, I was not interested in writing a scholarly journal
article. He assured me that what he wanted was a personal memoir
recounting what it was like making electronic artworks in those early
days. I said I could write about one of two projects from the
late 1970s. One, the Senate Piece, was a wonderful success in
every way. The other, the Century of Light, was a sad
failure. Roger said, " Oh, write about the failure. People
love to read about failures. They're more
I finished it in 2014. Leonardo published it in their Volume 50 issue 3 (June 2017) issue. A revised version of the article is here.
Century of Light: Six minute video
PROGMOD :Off-site programming module
Technical: Information and images of the Century of Light
Proposed: Demonstration of the manala
Animated Rendering: Temporary mandala on a building
Labyrinth: Futile attempt to save the artwork.