"He's floating in the middle of the building," says Corin Hewitt of the eight-foot-tall statue of Willard Scott he stuffed into the air shaft of 13 West 9th Street. The apartment building is owned by Tom Delavan, who used to run the Gramercy Art Fair; Hewitt was doing electrical work there when he persuaded Delavan to let him put in the half-ton cast-marble sculpture. "During the process of installing it, we burst two pipes," says the 29-year-old artist, an intense ex-Vermonter in a brown sweater and hiking boots. "His elbow sticks into a woman's medicine cabinet."
But why Willard? Hewitt mentions the mysticism of weather prediction and insists he isn't being ironic. "I thought of making it inflatable," he says, "but I'm not interested in kitsch." Though the statue might look a bit like Mao about to break into a show tune, Hewitt sees Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Theresa. (Until the end of April, it's on display Tuesdays and Saturdays, noon-6 p.m.; later he wants to move it to a grain silo.) In preparation, Hewitt shopped for Scott mementos on eBay and mapped the weatherman's family tree. Eventually, he finagled a buffet brunch and a few photos of Scott at a Virginia Marriott. "I asked him if he felt like weather figured into our spiritual lives, and he said something like God being in the details," Hewitt says. "He's not highly introspective." He approached Scott later for more photos, he says, but "he basically stopped calling me back."