Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
A sculpture of St. Francis of Assisi was lifted onto a pedestal at St. Francis Xavier Church and School on 4105 W. 5215 South in Kearns on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 as artist Michael Peery, who donated the work, looks on.

KEARNS — A new piece of art now sits on a pedestal at St. Francis Xavier Church and  School in Kearns — a gift from an artist who has come on hard times.

Tuesday, workers lifted the 8-foot tall metal sculpture, with an arm span of 8 ½ feet, of St. Francis of Assisi onto a pedestal at 4105 W. 5215 South.

Michael Peery began creating the sculpture in 1996 in Hollywood, Calif., while he was living at the St. Francis Hotel. The work was commissioned by a man who never paid him.

Eventually Peery returned to his home state of Utah, hoping to sell the artwork. Recently injured in a motorcycle accident, in which he lost a leg, he cannot work for a while and decided to donate the sculpture to a church and school named St. Francis. 

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"We couldn't find a home in the whole L.A. (area); spent all kinds of money marketing St. Francis," Peery said. "We finally found a home here in Kearns, St. Francis Church and School."

He simply called Father Rob Moriarty. "What do you mean, you made it?" Father Moriarty said, recounting the conversation with Peery. "‘Well, I'm a metal sculptor and I welded it together.'

"So he gave me his website, I took a look at it and called him back and said, 'Yes, we would be delighted to have that.' It's a unique piece of art; only one in the country, only one in the world."

Peery says he will eventually return to work and his business called Metal Maddness.

Carole Mikita