In June 2009 Clarise Snyder answered a phone call from a Mr. Seth Parker who called to inquire whether MIT students might be interested in repairing the Kendall Band by Paul Matisse at the Kendall MBTA Station. The sculpture had been in need of repair for quite some time and the artist/creator in need of someone to take over the task of maintaining it.
Intrigued by the idea which seemed like a ‘no brainer,’ and a ‘perfect fit’ for MIT music and engineering students, Clarise Snyder said “YES!” Seth Parker enthusiastically responded that as soon as he found the right contacts at the MBTA that he would get back to her with the information. And he did.
Seth Parker called back in November with the contact information at the MBTA (Mr. Ted O’Neill). Next a fleurry of emails to Paul Matisse, the artist, who was delighted at the prospect of having MIT students repair the sculpture, to Ted O’Neill at the MBTA who responded with wholehearted support, and to the MIT music performance students who quickly spread the project idea far and wide through cyberspace.
The technical director for the project emerged from recommendations from many sources including MIT Alumna and Council for the Arts member Barbara Hughey who is on the teaching staff in the department of Mechanical Engineering. The Technical Director, Mike Tarkanian, is an MIT alumnus and technical instructor in Materials Science and Engineering.
Tarkanian selected a core group of qualified students who took the day-long MBTA ‘Right Of Way’ safety training. These students were issued permits by the MBTA to be able to work on the sculpture at the station. The core group of students established a student organization – The Kendall Band Preservation Society at MIT with the goal of restoring the sculpture and continuing to monitor and maintain the Kendall Band in perpetuity.
After all the time-consuming preparation, the students started work on the sculpture on April 1 when they took down the first three handles from the inbound side platform and a week later the other three handles from the outbound side platform. The MBTA general manager, Richard A. Davey, met the students at the first session.
The second phase of the work which started during the wee hours of the morning on July 25 entails taking down Pythagoras, Kepler and Galileo from where they hang between the inbound and outbound tracks. This work has to be done when the T is not running—between 1:30 and 4:30 am. The plan is to first repair the handle mechanisms and then proceed to work on refurbishing the three parts of the sculpture before re-installation at the station. The work by the KBPS also includes production of cad drawings and documentation for future repair and maintenance. In addition, the group will co-sponsor with the MIT Music Faculty, an annual composition competition for Kendall Band plus one instrument. The winning composition will be premiered on the sculpture’s anniversary date.