LAST OCTOBER painter Doug Parry read the new issue of Seattle Met and decided to go on a crusade. He learned about the fate of a Seattle icon, the 700-pound black steel ball and chain that an intrepid band of guerrilla artists anchored around the ankle of the Seattle Art Museum’s Hammering Man on Labor Day 1993. Tacoma developer Jan Schmalenberg had bought the infamous ball and its chain cheap at a benefit auction, and, to give the piece a more “positive” message, added neon-trimmed steel appendages, but vandals battered it repeatedly and it now sits forlornly by his South Tacoma office building.

Now Parry, along with Lorraine Sprinkle, mother of the ball and chain’s prime creator, Jason Sprinkle, aka Subculture Joe, wants to bring the ball back to Seattle, maybe make it part of SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park. But they face one high hurdle: Schmalenberg is in no hurry to let Seattle recover the piece. Asked what he thought about Parry’s idea, he snapped, “No comment!”

Meanwhile, the iron icon’s boosters plan a gentle Labor Day ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of the chaining of Hammering Man. With flowers this time, not shackles.

This article appeared in the September 2008 issue of Seattle Met.
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