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Frank and his Baggage (July 11, 2005)

The Baggage Handler – A Ballet In Two Parts With Suitcases And Memories
Michael Hermesh working on the Baggage Handler in early December 2004. From michaelhermesh.com

This is story of an elderly naked man named Frank, a piece of luggage, an outraged township and an act of dismemberment. But it has a happy ending in a vinous kind of way.

In February, the town of Penticton in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, displayed an installation by local artist Michael Hermesh called "The Baggage Handler" in the middle of its Marina Way traffic roundabout.

The installation's central figure, who became known as Frank, is a two-metre-high statue of a somewhat emaciated man dressed only in a suitcase that he carries in his right hand. He is surrounded by 24 other suitcases. The presence of the piece nearly caused several accidents, so the city councilors decided to cover Frank up with a modesty plate. But this only made matters worse by ensuring that everyone would stare at the covered area. Then vandals took matters into their own hands by knocking Frank off his pedestal and emasculating him.

An outraged Michael Hermesh demanded that the town pay to have his art work shipped to Vancouver for repair, but since that would cost $20,000 – far more than the city had paid for the statue in the first place – the council refused. To the rescue came Beat and Prudence Mahrer of Red Rooster Winery in Penticton, who purchased the sculpture from the artist and set it up in the art gallery above their tasting room. Frank, his manhood restored, now stands with pride still clutching his baggage. The Mahrers even produced a wine in homage to his eventful life – Cabernet Frank 2004 – featuring the artwork on the label.

 

 

 

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