Artist hopes Eternal Flame warms hopes of patients
From Springfield News-Leader — article by Chris BentleyRuss RuBert’s newest sculpture has a specific purpose. It’s designed to give hope to cancer patients. But it’s also the largest piece of public art in Springfield, and it gives RuBert, who designed an earlier sculpture on the Southwest Missouri State Campus, hope that more such pieces may be on the way.
His new sculpture, a 21-foot-tall sweeping brass shape called “the Eternal Flame” stands in the atrium of the $8.3 million Mid-America Cancer Center, 2055 S. Fremont Ave., which opened in April.
The flame cost about $40,000, center officials said. It can be seen from Fremont through a large circular window at the front of the building.
“It’s the central focus of the center. It’s symbolic of beauty and life beyond the disease,” Gregory Fecteau, the center’s administrator, said Thursday.
The sculpture is scheduled to be dedicated from 7 to 9 this evening at a multimedia event at the center, 2055 S. Fremont Ave. The event is open to the public.
RuBert, 30, designed the sculpture in October, when St. John’s Regional Health Center, which operates the center, invited several artists to submit ideas.
The St. John’s Auxiliary volunteer group had raised money for the sculpture. Another $460,000 the group raised bought a large piece of radiation therapy equipment, said Sister Stephanie Miller, vice president of St. Johns.
RuBert got the idea of brass flame from the center’s logo which includes a flame shape. The shiny surface of the sculpture is burnished in patterns to continue the motif.
“The burnishing makes it catch the light and make it look almost like the movement of flames,” Miller said. “He did a beautiful job.”
A committee chose RuBert’s idea in December, and construction began on it in January at Rose Metal Products Inc., 1955 E. Division St.
It was installed in the center in April, but the dedication event was put off until today in order to coordinate activities, RuBert said.
The event will include an interactive computer display also designed by RuBert’s company Public Sphere.
RuBert hopes that the sculpture and the event will help show Springfield the importance of public art.
Springfield has few examples of large sculptures. One is RuBert’s Echosphere at SMS, near the corner of South National Avenue and East Grand Street.
“This is a renaissance period for the arts we’re entering. A city like Seattle doesn’t even consider putting up a large hotel or bank building without considering some kind of art,” he said. “I hope Springfield becomes like that.”
Pam Kanagawa, vice president of Public Sphere, pointed out that Springfield’s options are open.
“We can be whatever we want to be around here. We choose our direction,” she said.