Hamilton’s namesake sculpture on High Street was decked out last week for a summer luau, which was fitting for a Hawaiian-themed event presented by local businesses.
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A bright green grass skirt, lei and sunglasses were eye-catching against the solid brass of the nine-foot Alexander Hamilton atop a three-foot granite stand.
It’s not the first time “The American Cape” sculpture by Kristen Visbal has been dressed in something other than his colonial wear and swirling cape.
He was also dressed in a Hamilton Joes uniform and hat last summer and has been kept toasty more than once by knitted leg warmers.
The Alexander Hamilton statue in downtown Hamilton sports a Hamilton Joe’s baseball team uniform and hat. The stunt was designed to draw attention to their first game of the 2017 season.
Photo: GREG LYNCH/2017
So who is dressing Mr. Hamilton? Well, it is being done on the “down low” because the City of Sculpture committee says it is a “no, no.”
The 4,000-pound sculpture was unveiled in October 2004. It is part of the ongoing City of Sculpture effort in Hamilton that has installed numerous artworks.
“We as a board do not condone this activity,” Jacob Stone, City of Sculpture president, told the Journal-News.
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“We have to look out for the sculptures long term,” he said of the non-profit organization responsible for the stewardship of the sculptures.
The Alexander Hamilton sculpture represents nearly a half-million dollar investment by individuals, families and businesses. Contrary to what many may think, the sculptures are not owned by the city, Stone said.
Alexander Hamilton has been “yarnbombed” several times.
Photo: GREG LYNCH/2017
“Metal is pretty forgiving, but it is not indestructible,” he said. “And they can be very expensive. Someone is going to be heartbroken if we have to have a conversation about making repairs if something gets broken off.”
“The American Cape” was damaged shortly after its installation by a vehicle that slammed into the base. The sculpture is now one-of-a-kind, because its mold was destroyed after it was cast.
“I would say now he is priceless,” Stone said.
A duel between the Alexander Hamilton statue and a compact car occurred in March 2006. A female driver was not seriously injured when she crossed the median and went head to toe with the statue, which received damage.
Photo: GREG LYNCH/2006
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Stone said the Hamilton sculpture is regularly cleaned and polished, which is labor intensive. Affixing objects can add to that process, he said.
“We don’t know how those items are being affixed, but it can’t be helpful to the sculpture,” Stone said.
Some thought and a daring spirit must have been put into planning the outfits, Stone said, because the statue is much larger than the average person.
“When the “yarn bombers” come through, which is a national movement, he just gets leg warmers because that is easy to reach,” Stone said.
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But a shirt or grass skirt? That takes a much bigger effort, he agreed.
Depending on the outfit, it is likely not too hard to figure out the culprits, and “I will have to have a conversation with them,” Stone said.
When asked if he thinks people enjoy seeing “The American Cape” dressed up, Stone said, “to each his own.”