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Central Park Airplane Exhibit Grounded by Wing Problem

By Amy Zimmer | July 24, 2012 3:50pm

MANHATTAN — It was a short ride.

A Central Park public art installation featuring a small passenger plane that slowy spins end-over-end while suspended in midair had to make an emergency landing — removed from its perch after a problem was spotted with its wing, officials from the Public Art Fund confirmed Tuesday.

The Italian-born, Alaska-based artist Paola Pivi unveiled the twin engine, six-seat Piper Seneca, suspended by its wings on steel posts at the center of Doris C. Freedman Plaza, on East 60th and Fifth Avenue, on June 19, and her work was slated to wow tourists until Aug. 26.

But after someone from the Public Art Fund — which sponsored the project and had an on-site official at the installation daily — spotted an “irregularity where the wing was connected to the body of the plane,” the piece was dismantled last week, said Kellie Honeycutt, the fund’s communications director.

“It’s absolutely fixable, but we can’t do it on site because it’s so big and complex,” Honeycutt explained. “We decided rather than scramble and put it back up for the end of the installation” — since the repairs are expected to take a few weeks — “we took it down early.”

The plane was ringed by a fence to keep spectators at a safe distance from the plane, but the move was made out of an abundance of caution.

“Because [the plane] is so big and this is something that no one has ever done before we wanted to respond cautiously," Honeycutt added.

The entire piece has been removed and the plaza was being repaved Tuesday.

The Public Art Fund will not install anything in the plaza until the next installation is slated in the fall — an absence first reported by Curbed.com.

Pivi, who creates works that remove highly engineered objects from their expected contexts and turn them into eye-catching art, was pleased her piece, “How I Roll,” had its moment in Manhattan.

The installation — her first public art project in the U.S. — “made my dream come true,” she said of the piece, which immediately became a place to pose for photographs.

“I conceived it specifically for New York and after several years working on it have been so pleased with the public response over the past month,” Pivi said. “I think the piece is wonderful, and I’m happy with the length of time that it has been on view.”

Even though the Public Art Fund will not reinstall the plane, it still planned to repair it, Honeycutt said.