When the Cleveland Museum of Art and Cleveland Public Art went looking for an outdoor installation that would evoke solstice celebrations around the world, they went to Mark Reigelman, the recent graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art who is now living in New York. If his name sounds at all familiar, that’s likely because he designed the cast concrete planters on the sidewalks along the Euclid corridor—the ones that look like a wrapped roll of paper unfurling a little, slightly uneven at the end.

Reigelman gave CPA and CMA’s party planners four ideas. He says his favorite was to cover the glass cube on the southeast side of the new East Wing with tin foil pom-poms, with light splashed all over them, which would look like a fire.

In the end, though, they settled on an idea to evoke the massive piles of cut wood that villages accumulate in preparation for the gigantic bonfires associated with celebrating the longest day of the year. The plan: to stack sections of fuscia pool noodles like logs, to create the look of an orderly wood pile. This would require a large number of pool noodles: more than any local store would have on hand. 18,720 of them, to be exact.

“The American Pool Noodle Industry gets all its pool noodles from one manufacturer in Canada,” Reigelman has learned. Their factory had been shut down for the season when Reigelman called, but they fired it up to meet the huge order.All told, delivered from Canada, the noodles cost about $7,400.

Reigelman was assembling the pool noodle log piles in 14 foot sections in the basement of the Cleveland Institute of Art last week. He had help from volunteers—anywhere from three to nine people working eight-our days, assembling log piles with construction adhesive.

The sections will be moved outdoors to the lawn outside the museum for the solstice party, where they’ll be assembled into a flowing but pixilated wood pile. They’ll serve a dual purpose, both as sculpture and as a practical barrier to help define the space and make a gateway to the Cleveland Museum of Art’s solstice party, in celebration of the opening of the new East Wing.

Reigelman says the noodles are recyclable, so they won’t end up in a land fill when it’s over, but he’s looking for a way to get more than a single use out of them. So don’t be surprised if the pool noodle log pile is re-incarnated elsewhere around town this summer.

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