I never knew Victor Pickett. I knew his work, though. It was not in a museum. It was at the mall. It was at MY mall, Hanes Mall, the prime teenage hangout spot. Two stainless steel sculptures hanging from the ceiling over one of the sunken conversation pits. There they hung, Free Form II and Free Form III, until one day they didn’t. I noticed this during what would turn out to be my final months as a freelancer. I tracked down an email address and asked about the fate of the sculptures. I had in mind an article about the fate of public sculptures, especially ones by people connected with the NCSU design school. People like Roy Gussow and Joe Cox and, it turned out, Victor Pickett. His daughter Dominique wrote me back and said that the sculptures had gone missing after a 2001 “update” of the mall.
A few months later I left the freelance world to start a regular dayjob, and I just didn’t have much time for freelance journalism anymore. I never bothered to try and contact mall management. It’s easy, and sad, to imagine that the sculptures were sold for scrap. Every now and then I would think about those sculptures, and also about some of Joe Cox’s work, and I’d run a few searches, but there was never enough time to try and research, pitch, and write an article.
And then recently I ran a search and there it was, Victor’s obituary. March 2022. Sigh.
You can, for now at least, still find a copy of his old website, where it’s always the early 21st century.