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‘Chaos I’ comes alive

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COLUMBUS — The familiar clanging of metal balls and mechanical movements of “Chaos I” began again Saturday when 12-year-old Maria Fischer flipped the switch to officially restart the sculpture.

Fischer, a seventh-grader at Northside Middle School and daughter of Jon and Rhonda Fischer, participated in a contest where a child’s name was drawn for the honor.

The children also wrote why they liked The Commons.

“It is a great place for the people of Columbus to come together to do great things,” Fischer told a group gathered in the Miller Tangeman Lobby.

A collective “oooh” came from the crowd as the sculpture by late Swiss artist Jean Tinguely came to life.

Jon Fischer said the event had added meaning for his family because he was the same age as Maria when the sculpture originally was dedicated in 1974.

“I have lots of memories of my dad taking us to The Commons, playing at the playground and eating at Snappy Tomato Pizza,” Maria said.

Richard McCoy, an art conservator who worked as a consultant on the “Chaos I” restoration project, said the sculpture is not well known outside of Columbus, but it should be.

“There’s really no other sculpture like this in the U.S.,” McCoy said.

In his research, McCoy learned the Tinguely wanted to create a “super toy” that was fun and chaotic with lots of motion.

The late J. Irwin and Xenia Miller and Clementine Tangeman paid $130,000 for the whimsical sculpture as a gift to the community.

Tinguely was commissioned to create the sculpture, and he came to the city and used scrap metal from Kroot Corp. to create the massive metal artwork.

David Doup, president of Taylor Bros. Construction Co., which served as general contractor for The Commons project and led the restoration work, said great care was taken to ensure “Chaos I” was refurbished and safe as construction crews worked around the sculpture.

“Chaos I” was enclosed in a large green box that was heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, Doup said.

A team of students from Purdue College of Technology in Columbus also assisted with the restoration and local artist Jeri Cannon added the finishing touches, a few splashes of paint.

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