Wednesday, October 17, 2018
ART (BOY) RESTORATION
Time to dance for joy!
The animals at Hestwood Park have been restored!
These are the critters James Aschbcher was commissioned to create for the public art installation in the children’s area of the Hestwood “pocket park” in Live Oak.
They were installed to great acclaim in 2002, when the park opened. The kids loved the bright colors and exuberant attitudes of these fanciful beasties!
But over the years, vandalism and weather took their toll on these creatures. Although James devised a way to affix them pretty permanently to the fence, legs, fins, and other body parts were sometimes ripped away.
One character was beheaded.
Meanwhile, hot weather cracked the sealant he used, so that in rainy weather — back when it used to rain — water leaked into the cracks and began to erode the paint.
It was an increasingly sorry sight over the years to go by the park and see how badly these animals were deteriorating.
As you can imagine, my Art Boy was heartbroken about it; he worked out a timetable to do the repairs himself, donating his time and labor if the county would pay for materials.
They said no.
The animals continued to decline, until the opportunity passed for James to ever restore them himself.
But then an angel stepped in!
Robert L. Echols, our neighbor here in Live Oak, who specializes in antiques restoration, made the county an offer it couldn’t refuse. He has taken it upon himself to rebuild, restore, repaint, and reseal every Aschbacher animal in the park — for free.
This was entirely Bob’s idea. When he first proposed the project to me, I was so stunned with gratitude, I could barely gush out my thanks. I told him how excited James would be about it. With a big grin, Bob replied, “He’s a great guy!”
That was the way my Art Boy inspired people to be their best, most generous, most creative selves.
This must be what they meant when they launched the whole “Be Like James” meme at his memorial celebration. He inspired everybody, not by preaching, but by doing. By the way he lived his own life.
He would be surprised to learn how many local people he influenced, just by who he was.
And he would love, love, love how his Hestwood menagerie has been brought back to life, in all its impudent glory!
PS: Here’s the very modest plaque Bob put up to acknowledge his hard work. I hope it’s in a prominent spot!