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Bath to celebrate 50th anniversary of Zorach fountain

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Bath to celebrate 50th anniversary of Zorach fountain

BATH — The acclaimed Zorach fountain is turning 50 this month, and its admirers are invited to celebrate at City Park on Sunday, Aug. 5.

The Friends of the Zorach Fountain are hosting the public event, which will be held at the Patten Free Library from 3-5 p.m.

The fountain, created by William Zorach and dubbed "Spirit of the Sea," was installed and dedicated to the city in August 1962.

The Bath Municipal Swing Band will offer music, and attendees can enjoy refreshments and hear a brief program of speakers that include representatives of the city, the Zorach family and the Maine Arts Commission.

The late Margie Bliss, who with her husband, Arthur, began the sculpture's restoration and started the Friends of the Zorach Fountain in 2002, will also be remembered during the celebration. The completed restoration was celebrated seven years ago this month.

Liz Messler, a member of the Friends board, said last week that "our ongoing job as a board is the constant conservation of that piece of art. ... It's kind of ongoing maintenance."

Born in 1889 in Lithuania, Zorach was recognized in 1915 as the dean of American sculpture in New York for his reintroduction of the method of carving directly in stone, according to information Messler provided. In 1923 he and his wife purchased property in Georgetown.

According to friendsofthezorachfountain.mainefolks.com, the Bath Garden Club invited Zorach to design and sculpt the City Park fountain in February 1959. He offered to donate his work, as long as the club took on the expense of casting in bronze, the plumbing, and the granite pedestal and base.

The club began fundraising that May, and by April 1962 it had reached its $15,000 goal, allowing preparatory work to begin in the park.

The Maine Arts Commission called the piece "perhaps the finest piece of outdoor sculpture in the state," according to the Friends.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.