The Muehlig Funeral Chapel on the corner of William and Fourth Avenue is a serious building, with thick corbels under the deep eaves, tall narrow windows with ornate arches, and a hipped, low-peaked gray roof. Which makes it especially surprising to notice, on its roof, a whimsical metal flower, sparkling with spinning movement and color.
Kevin Jacobi, the chapel’s general manager, bought the sculpture from Andrew Carson, an Art Fair regular who hails from Boulder. Shaped like a frenetic sunflower on a graceful sturdy stem, it has five spinners operating independently. Sometimes the whole sculpture rotates like a weather vane while its propellers spin vertically at differing speeds.
The installation “wasn’t a decision of [Muehlig’s owner] Service Corporation International but when I posed it, they said yes,” says Jacobi, who lives in Muehlig’s second-floor apartment to make sure that a live person, not an answering machine, responds to calls. “Of course, I did go ahead and install it, then asked if they objected.”
Jacobi and his partner assembled it from four heavy crates and mounted it themselves (“there was a lot of sweating”) on a concrete base one night in October 2010. It excites curiosity and imagination in the neighborhood–he’s overheard children call it the “Really Big Wheel,” while adults tend to use words like “thingamajig” and “whatchamacallit.”
Only a few folks have objected that the sculpture is too lighthearted for a funeral home. Jacobi himself especially enjoys seeing it at night, underlit with small floodlights. “You ought to see it in a snowstorm,” he says proudly.