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‘The Tumbler’ sculpture will live up to its name Tuesday

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"The Tumbler, by Aris Demetrios, has been on display in Park Central Square since it was commissioned in the '70s. On Tuesday, it will be rotated as the sculptor intended.

“The Tumbler, by Aris Demetrios,
has been on display in Park Central Square since it was commissioned in the ’70s. On Tuesday, it will be rotated as the sculptor intended.

If we can’t see the Tumbler’s shadow after its spring rotation next week, does that mean we won’t have six more weeks of winter?

Superintendent of Streets Ron Bailey isn’t sure, but he encourages interested citizens to come down to Park Central Square at 7:30 a.m., Tuesday, March 17, to watch a Public Works crew rotate the Tumbler, Springfield’s first piece of modern art, for the spring season. No, the Tumbler won’t be painted green for St. Patrick’s Day, but you’re welcome to wear green if you like.

Former Assistant Public Works Director Jonathan Gano learned the Tumbler’s origins (and its official name) researching Park Central Square a few years ago and tracked down sculptor Aris Demetrios in the process.

Gano contacted Demetrios by e-mail. Within five minutes, the 83-year-old artist responded from his cell phone in Montecito, California.

“I was shocked to get an answer so quickly,” recalled Gano. Not only did I find out the name of the piece was the Tumbler, but I also found out it was named that because it was supposed to be re-oriented every season, so in effect, you have a new piece of art. It inspired a lot of commentary, conversation and even a little bit of controversy when it arrived.”

The Tumbler was installed on the square in 1971 and is regarded as Springfield’s first piece of modern art. Creation of the Tumbler was funded by an arts patron identified as “Mrs. Monroe Swyers,” who  donated $15,000. Demetrios said that barely covered the cost of the steel to make it.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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