ROCKLAND — Artist Jay Sawyer announces a formal dedication of his public memorial display titled “EL FARO SALUTE!” on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at 1 p.m., at 44 Atlantic Avenue in Rockland. The event is open to the public and will take place rain or shine. Early arrival is suggested, according to Sawyer, in a news release.
The steel sculpture “EL FARO SALUTE!” is a memorial to the 33 souls lost at sea when their ship, the SS El Faro, went down during Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, 2015. The crew included five Maine Maritime Academy graduates; four lived in Maine and two were Rockland residents. In all, eight crew members called New England home.
The dedication ceremony on September 24 will open with a brief musical performance by Bay Winds North Wind Ensemble, followed by a Color Guard procession. After a welcome address by Sawyer, brief remarks will be given by Rockland Mayor Ed Glaser, Farnsworth Art Museum Curator Jane Bianco, Penobscot Marine Museum Executive Director Karen Smith, Maine Maritime Academy graduate John Buckley (’81), representatives from the Boston and Portland Marine Societies, and author and Reverend Peter Panagore, MDiv.
After graduating from Maine Maritime Academy, Sawyer worked as a USCG Licensed Engineer aboard oil tankers. Following his entrepreneurial yearnings, he came ashore and started a welding company. His passion for form and visual balance along with his natural talent for working with metal resulted in a transition to the creative studio he operates now. When news of the SS El Faro sinking reached him, he felt deeply that the unique combination of his experience on the high seas and a track record of successful public art projects, it was his responsibility to acknowledge the tragedy and honor the crew that perished.
“After creating sculptures in memory of several people that have influenced my life, I have come to know first hand the potential for art to heal,” said Sawyer. “I hope that all who have suffered a personal loss will take some comfort from this.”
Sawyer is known in Maine for his series of fabricated spheres, according to the release. His work entitled “A Spirit of Its Own” can be seen at the entrance to Portland Jetport. “Endless Trot” is part of the permanent collection at Owls Head Transportation Museum and “Ridin’ the Rails to Rockland'' is prominently placed at the end of the rail line overlooking Sandy Beach in Rockland.
Sawyer has participated in numerous joint and solo exhibits and has pieces in private collections across the country. He maintains a creative environment known as Studio JBONE which includes a sculpture park that has been called a ‘Maine treasure,’ at his home in Warren.
Additional information regarding the ceremony and parking will be posted at ElFaroSalute.com as it becomes available.