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Men of steel return in famed sculpture



Published: Thu, August 22, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Two steel workers who were models for the famous sculpture were on hand.

THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN

By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR

YOUNGSTOWN -- A nationally renowned sculpture of two steel workers that was destroyed by vandals shortly after it was dedicated in 1980 has been refinished and reinstalled.

"The Steelworkers," a work by George Segal, was dedicated Wednesday at its new home outside the Center of Industry & amp; Labor downtown.

"It's so wonderful that this will finally have a happy ending," said Louis Zona, director of the Butler Institute of American Art.

Artist is gone

The only disappointing part of the event was that Segal, once regarded as the country's leading sculptor, did not live to see the sculpture restored to its original state, Zona said. Segal died in 2000.

"Every time I talked to him, he asked about The Steelworkers," Zona said.

The work achieved national attention when Segal created it, and it is part of nearly every book that features artwork of the 20th century, Zona said.

Local officials came up with the idea of creating a sculpture for downtown Youngstown before the Black Monday steel mill closing in 1977.

By the time Segal completed the project, however, steel mill closings were continuing, and many area residents were fearful of the future.

Zona figures vandals took their anger out on the statue, which used to be on Federal Plaza. The sculpture was knocked over and dragged through the streets. Parts of it were lost and others damaged.

"It was a sign of the times," Zona said.

In storage

The two steel workers in the sculpture were placed in storage for years and lately had been in the lobby of the downtown steel museum. A section of a mill, which also was part of the statue, was placed outside the museum.

With a donation of nearly $5,000 from the United Steelworkers of America, the damaged and missing parts of the sculpture have been restored and the two parts of the work have been reunited outside the museum.

Zona said the community initially raised $75,000 for the work, though most of the cost was to have it placed in bronze. Segal was so taken with the project that he didn't charge much for his work of creating the sculpture in plaster, Zona said.

Wayman Paramore, 71, of Campbell, and Peter Kobly, 82, of Austintown, were the models for the two steel workers, and both were on hand for the dedication. They were workers at Youngstown Sheet & amp; Tube's Brier Hill works.

In the sculpture, Kobly is removing some molten steel so its properties could be tested. Paramore is holding an aluminum wire that was inserted into the red-hot steel so that it wouldn't spark. A bucket is next to Paramore because the test mold was then placed into water to cool it.

Zona said Segal arrived in the area with the thought of creating a sculpture of a golfer because all he knew about Ohio was that it was the home of Jack Nicklaus. He was moved when he saw the area's steel mills, however, and later wrote a poem about how steel workers were able to control immense forces of energy in the plants.

shilling@vindy.com




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