Claremont sculpture planned for city’s 250th celebrationBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent January 27. 2014 7:22PM
CLAREMONT — The city’s 250th anniversary this fall is to be marked with the erection of a 40-foot tall sculpture on the Visitors Center Green.
The creator of the sculpture to be named “ourhandsthenandnow,” Ernest Montenegro said Monday. He has been a sculptor his entire life.
A 20-year-resident of the city, Montenegro said he had an opportunity to sit on the city’s 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee, but passed on it, saying “I’m not a committee guy.”
But when he heard the committee wanted to include a sculpture as part of the celebration, Montenegro started planning a sculpture.
He presented his idea to the committee last month and to his surprise captured the enthusiasm of the committee members who asked him to create his proposed sculpture.
To make the work come to life, Montenegro first approached Claremont Canam Group plant. Canam Group is the largest fabricator of steel components for building, structural steel and bridge construction in North America.
Canam immediately got on board as the primary business sponsor of the project, donating all of the steel and fabrication needed for the 40-foot structure Montenegro plans.
“It’s a big ambitious gift. They are not afraid of it,” Montenegro said. “If it were not for them it would not happen for sure. They are the foundation of this whole project.”
The sculpture will be built at the Canam plant then transported to the Visitors Center Green before the fall celebration, Montenegro said.
A downtown footbridge near the Green inspired the sail like shape of the sculpture.
“The idea is to reflect the shape of the foot bridge. So I took a section of the foot bridge and tilted it,” he said.
Inside the shape Montenegro plans to include community members hand tracings, cut out of steel, with the help of plasma cutters at the Thermacut Inc. plant in Claremont. Thermacut is a global manufacturer and provider of advanced cutting and welding tools and machinery.
Montenegro said he expects a community event to be held for those who would like to have their hand tracing in the sculpture.
The hand tracings and the materials used represent the workforce that built the city.
Community and business support of the project has been “snowballing,” Montenegro said.
Just outside of Claremont, Whelen Engineering Inc., a Charlestown-based company that makes police lights has offered $16,000 worth of LED lights for the sculpture so it can be lit up at night.
“So at night they will flood the interior of the structure in such a way so that at night all of these hand prints will be like starlight,” Montenegro said.
During the day the sculpture will also act as a sundial, he said. “The idea is the sale shape actually will function as a solar clock, sort of a giant sun dial,” he said.
So while the sculpture is a celebration of the community, it is also a reminder of its place in the universe.
“It’s cosmic; it’s bigger than us in all of our lives,” Montenegro said.
Montenegro is expected to present is model of the sculpture to the City Council Wednesday night.