Story of the Sphinx
Because the interior of the American in Paris Gallery gives an homage to the regal palaces of France, I had to find a way to address the bare landscaping outside to ensure the grounds were in harmony with the French theme of the American in Paris Gallery and the collection inspired by my life and time in Paris. So I needed to extend the French theme of Paris outdoors to the gardens and grounds. Upon stepping out of the American in Paris Gallery, the French fountains, museum sphinxes, and gardens outdoors gives a feeling of the parks of Paris.
First I had to invest in and install monuments from Paris. Once the sphinxes and fountains were located and purchased, little did I know how challenging it would be delivering and installing them. After purchasing the monuments for the museum, I ended up personally transporting them from the greater New York area. The transportation challenge started by driving across from the George Washington Bridge and all the way up several states of New England at the helm of a huge rented truck. Whew! What a challenge that was...
Once I succeeded in delivering the monuments, I then had to rent a large forklift that could handle over 4 tons of weight. Thank God I started my early career in high school as a forklift driver at night loading up semi trucks. That early work experience driving a forklift sure did come in handy because without that life experience I could never have done it.
Two-Ton Statue on its Side
Each limestone statue weighed over 2 tons. As you can see in the photo above, at one point the forklift couldn’t handle the weight and malfunctioned, leaving one of the museum statues tilted on its side. The statue rolled off the wooden pallet to the front of the truck. As if that were not enough, I now had a NEW problem… The blades of the forklift could not reach the statue at the front of the truck.
First I had to figure out how to get the statue standing again. I also had to figure out how to get 2 tons of stone to the back of the truck so I could finally reach and unload it with the forklift. I was also pressed for time because both the truck and the forklift had to be returned and night was coming. I couldn't have done it without divine intervention. First I took a short break to pray for help.
Fortunately my prayer was answered. Suddenly I came up with the idea to tilt the sphinx right side up onto wooden 2x4’s as a makeshift pallet and moving blankets. With the strength of the forklift, using straps and chains we were finally able to tilt the sphinx right side up again onto the 2x4s and then glide the sphinx on the blanket, gliding it all the way to the back of the truck. What a feat THAT was! Now that the sphinx was right side up on the wooden 2x4's as a makeshift pallet, I was finally able to unload it with the forklift.
Art Installation Completed in The Dark
Just when I thought I had overcome the greatest challenges, however, it suddenly started raining heavily and the forklift kept sliding on the wet slippery grass. So I was also driving a forklift bouncing up and down with 2 tons of that kept getting stuck. The combined weight of the forklift and the 2-ton monument was so heavy that the wheels kept spinning deep into the thickness of the mud. So I could not move an inch without wobbling every which way deep in the wet mud. The ground beneath the forklift was also very uneven and the forklift kept bouncing up and down on unstable ground.
Just when I thought every obstacle had been thrown at me, it was now dark and I was now trying to deliver a 2-ton museum monument without being able to see what I was doing. It had already been extremely difficult to do all this during the day. As you can see from the photo (above) I now found myself driving the forklift in total darkness. I had to stay totally focused because it was also in the peak of summer and I was now being eaten alive by mosquitos.
When I woke up the next morning I had mosquito bites all over my entire body but in the morning light I looked outside and could finally see why my vision had been totally worth it! Anyway, what an adventure THAT was. That's an understatement... What can I say? I'm an artist with a vision! Now I can honestly say that "The Making of a Museum" has been my greatest and most challenging artistic achievement. Looking at these French museum sphinxes outside the American in Paris gallery, now you can understand what I went through creating my personal sanctuary for art inspiration.
I hope you have enjoyed this behind the scenes "Story of the Sphinx".