Aly Pennino and her brother, Tony, stared quizzically at the Seward Johnson statue that has become known as “Bob the Window Washer” on the corner of Walnut Street and School Street on Tuesday.
Tony, a slight, blond-haired boy, and his younger sister sauntered around the statue, never really taking their eyes off of the life-like face of the statuesque man who had been cleaning the same window of Texture Salon since he was placed there three months ago.
Tony eventually smiled at the statue before he walked away, but Aly was never quite convinced that Bob was not going to suddenly come to life and look right back at her.
But starting today, the Pennino siblings — and the rest of Lodi — will no longer be able to interact with the statues.
The Seward Johnson sculptures will begin to be removed starting at 7 a.m. this morning. Once all 10 are safely packed away, they will be transported back to their home in a New Jersey studio, according to Deanie Bridewell, Community Center Manager for Hutchins Street Square.
Their destination after that is unknown, Bridewell said, but during their stay in Lodi she had heard nothing but positive feedback about the statues, and said she felt the sculptures provided a unique art experience for the community.
The statues, which were unveiled April 15 in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce’s Spring Wine Stroll, were funded by a development fee from Lodi’s Art in Public Places program. The cost of exhibiting the statues in Lodi over the past three months totaled $22,500, Bridewell said.
“I’ve stood listening to a mother describe the process of how they were made to her small children, I saw a mother of a visually impaired child help him to feel the guitar of a sculpture ... ” she said, referencing the troubadour statue who sits and silently strums away on his guitar across the road from Rosewood Bar & Grill.
Other Lodi city officials say they have observed similar instances in which passers-by were either snapping photos of the statues or taking pictures with the statues.
Mayor Bob Johnson said he liked to walk down School Street during the weekly Farmers Market or at the Street Faire and ask those he caught looking at the statues what they thought of them. Be it Lodi residents or out-of-towners, Johnson said many of the reactions were the same — “God, these things are fantastic.”
The statues have been good for business along School Street, too. Business owners have seen an increase in foot traffic since the statues took up residence in April.
Lonnie Saechao, who works at Lodi Cooks on the corner of Pine and School streets, said a customer came into the store one day to regale him with a tale about how she tried to wave the statue of the jogging woman across Pine Street. After telling store staff her story, Saechao said, the woman stuck around to shop at the store.
Kathy Sauseda, owner of Texture Salon, says she has customers come in all the time and while they are getting their hair done, all they will do is watch “Bob the Window Washer” until they leave.
“People will come in and say we are paying (Bob) too much to clean our windows when he hasn’t even finished the job on that one side,” she said. “He has probably been hugged more, poked more and groped more than any other statue along (School Street).”
Contact Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.