LEWISTON — Charlie Hewitt’s wish is coming true much earlier than he anticipated.

Hewitt is delighted that his “Lewiston Rattle” sculpture, dedicated this past August on Lisbon Street, has to be moved to a new location.

“That’s good news. That makes me feel good about it,” Hewitt said when reached by phone Tuesday morning.

Developer Nathan Szanton is buying seven vacant lots on Lisbon Street between the Professional Building and Centerville Plaza. Szanton plans to build a five-story apartment building with 71 units, plus retail space.

The City Council agreed last week to sell Szanton five of the lots owned by the city. The developer told councilors that he had reached a deal to buy the other two lots from owner Tom Platz.

The Lewiston Rattle is on the Platz property.

The artwork has proven popular with residents and visitors, according to Josh Vink, executive director of L/A Arts. 

“It’s become a fabric of the community,” he said.

Hewitt, born in Lewiston in 1946, is a prolific artist who has had his paintings and sculptures featured in several New York galleries and museums, as well as in Maine and New England. His series of rattle sculptures are visible in Lewiston, Portland and New York. 

It was a series of devastating fires that destroyed several apartment buildings in downtown Lewiston in 2013 that inspired Hewitt to build something in the ashes of his hometown.

Initially wanting to erect the seven-piece whimsical sculpture on one of the properties destroyed during the 2013 fires, Hewitt, with help from L/A Arts and Platz, chose the site of another downtown fire: Lisbon Street where several buildings were destroyed in 2004.

The seven colorful pieces, 5 to 8 feet tall, sit atop 20-foot aluminum poles and are bolted to a cement slab. Hewitt designed it to be portable.

In an interview last year, Hewitt spoke of his view that public art should not be permanent.

“Permanence means you have to live with it for the rest of your life, whether you like it or not,” he said. “Temporary means we can argue over it. One big thing about these pieces, they can be unbolted and moved to the next location. Success for me would be the day (the Lewiston Rattle) is moved to another site. That would be great.”

Vink is unsure at this early stage where to move the sculpture. Officials have told Vink that construction on the new apartment complex will begin in nine to 12 months.

“It will be interesting now to think about where it could go next,” said Hewitt, who added that he would love to have the sculpture moved multiple times.

“We’d like to keep it very visible, very prominent, where people can enjoy it like they presently can,” Vink said.

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