PORTLAND – “Tracing the Fore” will soon be rolling out of downtown Portland.

The much-maligned landscape sculpture in Boothby Square has been sold for $100 to a company that plans to use it in a sculpture garden at an undisclosed lot in North Deering.

The bid from PWM Land was the only offer the city received. Portland paid $135,000 for the art six years ago.

Scott A. Cohen, manager for PWM, which has a Marginal Way address, said the stainless-steel “waves” will join some kinetic sculptures already on the lot. Eventually, he said, the sculpture garden may be turned over to the city, although that won’t be for “two to four decades.”

Cohen revealed few details about PWM Land, but said he was the manager and not the owner. The company is owned by Bowball Investments, which he described as “a holding company.” He also said he is not an owner of Bowball and declined to name anyone involved with the company.

Bowball’s website consists only of a home page identifying it as a “private investments company.”

Cohen said there’s a lot more money involved with “Tracing the Fore” than $100. PWM Land will have to pay to have the sculpture removed and the area it occupied in Boothby Square filled in with loam and seeded for grass. The city is requiring a performance bond of $10,000 to make sure the work is done right.

“One hundred dollars is kind of a misleading number,” Cohen said. “It’s not a cheap undertaking.”

It will also be expensive to install the sculpture in its new location, including planting a specific type of grass that will blow in the wind and inspire viewers to imagine waves rolling down the Fore River, which was the original vision of artist Shauna Gillies-Smith.

The long grass that Gillies-Smith wanted never grew properly in Boothby Square. Business owners in the area complained that the installation was overgrown with weeds and the art too abstract.

Cohen, however, said he likes the concept and believes it will be easier to achieve on the site he has chosen, which is more wind-blown and open. He also plans to ask Gillies-Smith to consult on the placement of the sculpture.

“I think there’s a lot of smart people on the (Portland Public) Arts Commission and they made a good decision” to buy the sculpture in the first place, he said. “They just had a bad placement for it.”

How quickly the sculpture will be gone has not been determined.

The city’s request for proposals said the new owner has two weeks to remove “Tracing the Fore” once a contract for sale is signed. That contract is ready, but has not been signed by either party, said Nicole Clegg, Portland’s spokeswoman.

Cohen said he’d like to wait until after the tourist season has ended and then move the sculpture in September or October.

Clegg said the city would probably be open to negotiating the movement date.

One interested party is Shawn McCarthy, the owner of Dock Fore on Boothby Square, which will hold an “Erasing the Trace” event whenever the sculpture departs.

“We’ve put up with this for so long and everything has been negative, so I thought it’d be nice to have something positive,” McCarthy said. He has encouraged other businesses on the square to hold sales or other specials to mark the departure as well.

McCarthy said he’s no philistine and, in fact, displays an artist’s work every month for First Friday Art Walks. But while he “could see the vision” Gillies-Smith tried to achieve, “it just never took off.”

He also noted that, curiously, graffiti artists never “tagged” the sculpture during the six years it stood in Boothby Square.

McCarthy said he hasn’t decided how to mark the departure of “Tracing the Fore” beyond some drink specials.

“Maybe we can sum up with some kind of stainless-steel drink,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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