Walter Pierce

'Tongue' in groove: Salvaged sculpture installed downtown

by Walter Pierce

A piece of Lafayette public art saved from the wrecking ball last spring has been installed in a more prominent location at a gateway into downtown Lafayette. The 8-ton cement piece called Twisted Loop, by sculptor and former UL Lafayette art professor Robert Wiggs, now sits at the confluence of Congress and 2nd streets in the traffic island between the Lafayette Public Library and the IberiaBank building. For the last three months it had waited in storage after being hoisted from the former site of the LBA Savings Bank drive-thru on Vermilion Street adjacent to the Acadiana Center for the Arts. The drive-thru was demolished to make way for a 300-seat theater expansion to the AcA.

“I think this a great example of how important it is for us in Lafayette, we have only a few pieces of historic value in this city — pieces of art that meant something to other generations — and I think it‘s important to preserve them,” said AcA Executive Director Gerd Wuestemann as workers scurried about finalizing the installation. Known affectionately as “The Tongue,” the sculpture was bolted onto a cement base by workers from the Lemoine Company, the construction company that is the general contractor for the AcA expansion and which offered to undertake the sculpture’s salvation for free. Architects Southwest also donated their services to the project while Lafayette Consolidated Government donated and prepped the site. A plaster company will come in later to refurbish the piece, and Eagle Scouts will paint it and do landscaping before a re-dedication ceremony takes place. The Downtown Development Authority was also a key player in the process. Wuestemann hailed the project as an example of how public-private partnerships can work in Lafayette. “I think it was a wonderful example of how easy things get when you have great partners that come to the table and decide it’s the right thing to do, it can’t be that difficult to make it work , and here we are.”