‘The Big Wheel’

Lowell artist Jeannine Tardiff Condon made this painting of an iconic object in downtown Lowell that is now gone. This image is from a notecard that Jeannine made for sale in her studio at the Brush Gallery and Studios at Market Mills. Excellent in drawing and painting, Jeannine was one of the most active artists in the early years of Lowell’s cultural renaissance. The notecard is titled “The Drive Pulley,” which is the actual name of the machine part from inside the Lawrence Manufacturing Company mill near LeLacheur ballpark that was recycled for display outdoors in front of the Mack Building on Shattuck Street. It became known as “The Big Wheel.” The pulley was made of wood and steel with a leather covering wrapping around the wide edge. These materials were not weather-resistant in the end, even as efforts were made to preserve the popular wheel that was considered a piece of “found art” and repurposed for the Lowell Public Art Collection. The notecard probably dates from the late 1980s. I think the wheel was finally removed in the late 1990s because it had deteriorated. Jeannine passed away in 2015.—PM