Nyquist asks for Pipe Man to be returned to him

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While Pipe Man may rise again, it will not be under the purview of the Town of Huntsville.

Jan Nyquist, owner of Pipefusion and the donor of the art installation, was before Huntsville council December 19, along with the artist, Beverley Hawksley, asking that the art be returned to him.

When Pipe Man was gifted to the Town it became its property. It was then installed in the Muskoka River but its location got a lot of criticism from a great number of community members. In the end, council decided to remove the art pending a public consultation to determine a location more amenable to the community.

“Public art needs to be placed in public places and yes it will draw controversy and outrage. My question is this: How can we engage the public in a forum to determine a non-controversial, publicly acceptable location to display controversial public art? Does this not defy the purpose of public art in the first place?” questioned Nyquist.

“Neither Beverley, my staff or myself have any desire to engage in public forums to determine the future of Pipe Man. We all would find this offensive. We are not offended that we removed Pipe Man from the river at our expense. Our staff put great effort into the artistic creation, design, construction and installation of Pipe Man. In our view, there is no other suitable location.”

Nyquist said he understands council had a job to do and does not begrudge any councillors for voting to remove the art installation from the river, however he asked Council that it return the donation to Pipefusion “without delay so that we can all move on.”

Council agreed to return the art installation and many expressed sadness at the turn of events, but said they understood where Nyquist was coming from.

Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison issued Nyquist a public apology. “I got you into this Jan because it was my idea that you do something like this and I don’t know if you chalk it up to being a young new mayor and not as experienced as I need to be, and I don’t know if maybe I just wasn’t courageous enough to stick it out and fight for it, but I regret that we’re in this situation and I apologize for my role in it,” said the Mayor, adding that he intends to move forward with a public forum and engage the community on the issue of public art.

“No one needs to apologize. We’re happy as long as we get Pipe Man back,” responded Nyquist.

Asked by Councillor Dan Armour what his plans are for Pipe Man, Nyquist said the art is currently on the Pipefusion property and although no concrete plans are in place at the moment, “he may rise again.” Huntsville Mayor said he hopes he rises again as well and added, “hopefully my political career does too,” to laughter from those present.

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10 Comments

  1. Boy, the town (not the Mayor, Council or Administration but the community itself) really blew it on this one and, as a result, Huntsville missed a great opportunity to show of its distinctiveness. Too bad.

  2. With all due respect to Jan regarding his take on this whole situation, it was mostly objection to the river location not the object itself that riled people; that’s my take on it anyway. Jan says he isn’t angry but I hope, when feathers are less ruffled and time heals, we will see Tom in the Rivermill park! It would be a shame to waste such talent and philanthropy.

  3. Isabel DesRoches on

    We have spent 15 + summers in Huntsville and boat in to town regularly. The location of Pipeman was an accident waiting to happen. It was black and hard to see. If he was located at the dock it would have become a fantastic photo opportunity for tourists to just like the art murals located all over town. Not sure why there is so much upheaval about this. Relocate him to the shoreline and let’s go back to enjoying this unique art.

  4. I hope that Pipeman will rise again in the Rivermill Park. It would be a lovely beacon to see, and as noted above, a great photo op placement. To me, and from what I’ve read it was the location of the art as much as any dislike of it. Art does not have to be liked by everyone. The placement of art must be of safety to all, however. Let’s hope we see him again somewhere safe.

  5. What a shame! after all the publicity that the town got internationally this is what happens? Jan, you are a gem this town does not deserve or at least the backward thinking, non art philistines.
    The location of the installation was publicly debated with little to no input from the public and was given the green light from NavCan, DFO and all other governing bodies pertaining to the agreed upon site. To deride Mr. Nyquist or any others is tantamount to harassment.

  6. Why wouldn’t you stick it in the pond at Pioneer Village instead of being a big baby about it? I really couldn’t care less if I ever see it again so take your toys and go home.. Enough is enough already. …

  7. Karen Wehrstein on

    Moral of the story: if you’re going to put a large, very visible artwork in a central place, consult first with the people who will have to see it whether they want to or not. Looks like our mayor has learned this. I hope Mr. Nyquist has, too.

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