‘Saving Washington’ is latest municipal sculpture initiative

The latest donation to Wilton’s municipal sculpture collection has been made, but the town needs to raise $17,500 to move it from its home on Seeley Road to a new pedestal at the Clune Center.
The sculpture, Valley Forge Washington by Gifford Proctor, may be best known to Wiltonians as the angel-like sculpture seen by drivers in the window of a Seeley Road art studio that once belonged to the Keiser family.
Donated by both the Keiser and Proctor families, the piece is valued at approximately $25,000.
“It means an awful lot to me” that the town and the Keiser family have worked to save this piece, Proctor’s daughter, Susan Proctor, said Monday. “We would have had nothing to show for this piece otherwise, because the little clay piece this was based off deteriorated over time.”
A towering piece of art, Washington stands 10 feet tall and was produced in Wilton over the course of 30 years by Proctor, who initially designed it in Rome in 1939.
It is made of a steel frame, dense poly foam, workable sculpting material, and a vinyl coating that prevents the piece from catching fire.
The piece was initially intended for the Valley Forge State Park, but as the artist prepared to create a 20-foot-tall version of the piece, the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor. The project was scrapped as funding for the arts dried up.
Nevertheless, over the next few decades, Proctor continued to work on the 10-foot-tall version of the sculpture, leaving it in the Keisers’ art studio where he worked.
“It was here in this community where so many years of work were put into it. To have it as part of our community and a lasting piece of great artwork to be in our community is really thrilling,” First Selectman Bill Brennan said at a press conference on Monday announcing the gift.
“This is a 75-year work in progress,” he said later. “We just have to save it.”
The $17,500 in donations required to move the piece will be paid to a New York company, Polich Tallix, which will professionally move the sculpture and repair the piece’s small imperfections.
“The town owns the sculpture, but the question is what do we do with it? The plan is to move it to the Clune Center,” Brennan said. “The Clune Center is ideal, because you’ve got very high ceilings and the opportunity to have this be a major point of interest in the Clune Center and inspire our students.”
A “very broad” mailed request for donations to the project will be sent out from the first selectman’s office in the coming weeks. Donations should be made to the Town of Wilton in care of Executive Assistant Jacqueline Rochester, and are tax-deductible.
Those residents and non-residents who make donations exceeding $500 will be recognized as Leadership Contributors, and will have their names recognized on a permanent bronze plaque near the sculpture.
This is not the first sculpture the Proctor family has donated to the town. Gifford’s father, Alexander Proctor, produced and donated a sculpture of a Native American in 1940 that currently sits in Wilton Library.
“We’re indebted to them,” Brennan said. “I’m excited and encouraged that we’ll raise the funds to do this.”