BATH — After more than a decade of work to restore one of the finest examples of public art in Maine, the Friends of Zorach Fountain will celebrate their achievement with a public party at 3 p.m. Sunday at Patten Free Library, where William Zorach’s elegant “Spirit of the Sea” has enchanted residents and visitors since it was installed in 1962.

“It’s a celebration of the completion of the project,” said Linda Wood, president of the grassroots citizen group that formed in 2002 to conserve and restore the city-owned fountain and rebuild the pond that surrounds it. “It turned out wonderfully well.”

Sunday’s celebration will include recognition of the people who worked on the project, music and poetry. Mari Eosco, who chairs the City Council, will speak on behalf of the city. Charlie Ipcar, a grandson of Zorach, will perform music, and another grandson, Timothy, will read a poem. Maine sculptor Andreas von Huene of Woolwich will talk about Zorach and his vision, and landscape architect Bruce Riddell of Boothbay will discuss his own vision for the project and the park.

The Zorach fountain is among the most celebrated pieces of public art in Maine. The Bath Garden Club commissioned it in 1959. Zorach, a leading Modernist artist, donated the fountain, which was installed in 1962 in a city park on Washington Street. Forty years later, the Friends of Zorach Fountain formed to conserve it.

“Spirit of the Sea” is one of Zorach’s finest works. It’s similar to his “Spirit of Dance,” on permanent view at Radio City Music Hall and this summer at the Portland Museum of Art, with a female figure resting on a knee. In this one, the woman reaches skyward, as water cascades down her body.

It is cast in bronze, with a granite base.

Zorach, the husband of modernist painter Marguerite Zorach and father of painter Dahlov Ipcar, lived across the Kennebec River from Bath in Georgetown. He and his wife bought land in Georgetown in 1923 and spent their summers there before moving year-round. He died in Bath in 1966.

The early part of the restoration focused on the sculpture itself. The latest phase involved landscaping the pond and park that surrounds the sculpture. What used to be a pond of mud and muck is now one with clear water with new rock landscaping, a bridge and seating.

“Sunday’s celebration is to acknowledge how we got here,” Wood said. “We’re going to recognize people who played a part in the history of the fountain and acknowledge the donors who contributed to the effort.”

The timing couldn’t be better. Museums across Maine are showing a range of work by Zorach and his family. The Portland Museum of Art features his work in “A New American Sculpture;” the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland just opened an exhibition by Marguerite Zorach, “An Art-Filled Life;” and the Ogunquit Museum of American Art is showing early work by Dahlov Ipcar in “Creative Growth,” which closes Wednesday.

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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