Artist Stefanie Mandelbaum

By Louise Witonsky, Volunteer at Grounds For Sculpture

Math is often an integral part of art.  Artists who are knowledgeable
about such mathematical concepts as the Golden Rule or Fibonacci’s
number might incorporate these concepts into their sculpture. So when
someone who understands the math sees the sculpture, the observer may
see something more in the piece than meets the average museum
visitor’s eye.

Image

Stefanie Mandelbaum, who is both an artist and a mathematician,
recently lectured to the volunteers at Grounds For Sculpture about math in art, using slides from the Grounds to illustrate mathematical concepts. As one volunteer commented after the program, Stefanie’s lecture was certainly something to think about.

Stefanie Mandelbaum, who taught math for many years at Rider
University in Lawrenceville, NJ, has a BS in mathematics from Queens
College (CUNY), and an MAT (mathematics) from Montclair University. Because she has an MFA (sculpture) from Pratt Institute as well, Stefanie also taught art history courses at Rider.

Image

As an artist, Stefanie does math-inspired sculpture, mixed media
collage, wall sculptures, paintings and prints. She has
exhibited in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Vermont,
Mexico, Canada, and Russia. Her works are in several private, museum,
and university collections.

Stephanie developed a program she calls ARThematics –art that uses
mathematical concepts. For more than ten years, Stefanie Mandelbaum
taught numerous ARThematics workshops for students and
teachers in the New York tri-state area.  She utilized art projects to
reinforce mathematical concepts.  Stefanie has also started a program
called ARThematics Plus which extends the original math/art concept to
incorporate language arts, world cultures, music, dance, architecture,
science and even culinary arts into the teaching of mathematics.

Image

Stefanie has coauthored ARThematics Plus: Integrated Projects in Math,
Art and Beyond.
Published in 2003, this is a resource book for teachers
of grades 4 to 6, but many of the lessons and ideas can be tailored for
older or younger grades, as Stefanie herself has done.

Stefanie Mandelbaum says that “I live in two creative worlds that are
inextricably intertwined: art and mathematics — with a tad of music
thrown in. The state of mind, the feeling I get when I do a
mathematical proof is exactly the state of mind I’m in when I do my
artwork. Each mathematical system has its own internal logic, its own
consistency. In this respect, a mathematical system is no different
from a painting, a sculpture, or a musical composition.”

All images Courtesy the Artist.

Artists in Action – Part 2

Tags

, ,

By Bob Levine, Volunteer Docent at Grounds For Sculpture

While it is a real thrill to visit and chat with a sculptor whose work you have seen and admire, it is perhaps a greater thrill to “discover” artists whose work you have never previously seen. It’s not that you are discovering someone new to the world of art – rather you are just discovering someone who’s been there for a while, but you had never known before.

Mike Gyampo fit this description to a tee. I had never noticed his works at Grounds For Sculpture, nor had I even heard or read his name. I was thrilled and pleasantly surprised to meet the man who is clearly a talented sculptor and a delightful man to talk with.

A native of the West African nation of Ghana, Mike uses a lot of the beliefs and customs of his native land in his works. A great example of this is a wall hanging that he has in his studio:

IMG_0317

At first glance, the items at the top appear to be seven spoons. Looking carefully, however, you realize that they are actually seven bodies, with the “spoons” actually the heads of the bodies. I asked him if there was any special reason why there were seven bodies, and he said that seven is an important number in Ghanaian folklore and beliefs. The round structure that the “feet” are resting on represents the earth, and the star in the middle represents the heavens, or stars. The heart- shaped form at the left is a representation of the heart, while the oval shape at the bottom represents the head. I believe that the item above and to the right of the “head” is a representation of the body. The entire bronze structure is based on Ghanaian folklore.

Mike has several items on display at GFS. It is quite easy to overlook his Just Chillin’, because it is tucked into the left-hand corner of the Acer Garden as you enter from the main part of GFS. It is a construction of concrete and marble, and needs some explanation to understand what it represents.

Just Chillin'

Just Chillin’

Original version of Just Chillin’

Original version of Just Chillin’

The figure actually represents a girl kneeling on the grass. The top part is her head, the section to the right of the hole in the middle is her arm, and the bottom part represents her lower body in a kneeling position. It is abstract, but nonetheless it has a very specific meaning, which you can discern if you know what you are looking for. The picture on the right shows Mike’s original version, which he did in cast bronze, resting on a shelf in his studio.

What I found the most interesting of Mike’s works were his wood carvings. There is something special about carving in wood – be it the natural grain that you work with, or the way that artists like Mike Gyampo incorporate the natural grain and shape of a piece of wood and make it into something that more closely resembles a human-like shape. The following two pieces from his studio provide examples of this:

IMG_0318IMG_0319


If you look carefully at the carving on the left, you will be able to discern a human head. Near the top, the projections on each side represent two ears. Between them is a “nose”, turned to the right. Below that, to the left, is a mouth, with the tongue sticking out slightly. You need to use your imagination to see that, but Mike saw it in the original piece of wood to be able to create this carving.

The carving on the right is a bit easier to figure out, as the primary shape of it is clearly an adult human. Near the bottom you can see two hands clasped together, with a head, possibly of a child, at the very left. Above the hands near the bottom appears to be an animal. It’s amazing what one can do with a tree if one has both the imagination and ability to create a work of art from it.

Another sculpture that Mike has at GFS is Matters of the Moment. He has the original small wood carving in his studio, and a significantly larger bronze version right outside the Museum Building entrance to the Grounds. It is easy to tell the size of the original by seeing how it compares to the tape cassette next to it on the table. The bronze version is much more imposing, but personally, I prefer the more natural look and feel of the wood version.

Original wood carving.

Original wood carving.

Matters of the Moment (bronze).

Matters of the Moment (bronze).


G. Frederick Morante is the sculptor who I interviewed for a blog article last summer. In his studio now, he is concentrating on sculpting heads. He noted that there are two ways of developing a sculpture – building out, or building in. Building out refers to working with a material like clay, where you start with virtually nothing, and keep on building it out until you have a final product that you are satisfied with. Stone carving, on the other hand, is a case of building in. Your initial piece of stone determines the maximum dimensions of the finished work. You slowly and carefully carve your way in until you have your final object. He noted that he had studied for some time with stone carvers in Italy,  but never felt really comfortable with that material. After all, if you cut too much out at any point, there is no way of putting it back in. In spite of this, he showed us an example of a head that he has been carving.

IMG_0320

He commented that he has always been interested in heads. When he attended college in San Diego, he had what he felt was the ideal part-time job for himself. He worked at the stadium for games of the San Diego Chargers (football) and San Diego Padres (baseball). It wasn’t that he was such a sports fan, but he had the perfect job for a future sculptor. He was stationed at the bottom of a long escalator with the task of stopping its movement if someone fell. He spent his day focusing on people’s heads as they came down the escalator in front of him. One day he would study ears, one day noses, one day eyes, one day mouths, etc. Over the years he received a complimentary education on different faces and their parts.

He is currently working on several heads in his studio. The one seen below is of a young woman.

IMG_0321

Note that he has frontal and profile drawings of her face, as well as a virtual album of views of her on the board behind the developing sculpture of her head. I never thought of how an artist would develop a head sculpture (or even painting) of a specific person. I had imagined the poor subject sitting there with him interminably as the artist worked on one detail after another. Having photos of her from all angles makes the process a lot easier.

Gyuri Hollosy has developed his own technique of fabricating pieces of metal into shapes, most commonly of the female form. He designs not only the final figure, but all the pieces that will go into making up that piece. As the photo of Kathy B (located behind the Gazebo at GFS) shows, the result is that the figure appears to be made out of armor plate.

Kathy B

Kathy B

He has also done a number of critically acclaimed busts and full-size statues, and is currently working on additional ones in his studio. A sample of a work in progress is shown below.

IMG_0325

In all, I found the Artists in Action event at the Motor Exhibit Building on March 23, 2013 to be an enjoyable and educational experience. I encourage all volunteers and docents to avail themselves of future opportunities to see some of our artists at work in their studios.

Artists in Action

Tags

, , ,

By Bob Levine, Volunteer Docent at Grounds For Sculpture

Last year, while on tour at the Atelier, I had the opportunity to meet and later speak with several of the artists working there. When today turned out to be a pleasant and not-too-cool early Spring day, I decided to check out the Artists in Action program in the Motor Exhibits Building. I’m glad that I did, as I had the opportunity to meet and chat with a number of the artists who have studios there. In no particular order, here are impressions that I had of some of the artists who I talked with.

Bruce Lindsay taught me a new word today – biomorphic – which means “resembling or suggesting the forms of living organisms.” The word came up when I asked him the meaning of the object that the male figure is carrying on his shoulders in the work, Use of Memory. This sculpture is currently on display in The Meadow, as part of the MYTHOS exhibition.

Image

Use of Memory

In the studio, Bruce showed me the smaller initial version of what ended up as the object that the “man” is holding up. Initially, he developed an original shape, and then over time developed it into what is currently part of the sculpture. It is biomorphic, not something that we recognize, but that suggests the form of something living. “What does it mean?” I asked. His answer — “whatever it means to the viewer.” He likes viewers to supply their own interpretation of his art work.

Clifford Ward provided me with the opportunity to see the origin of a sculpture that I have long admired at Grounds For Sculpture — Jubilant Dancer. The original is made of plaster bandage, and the sculpture on display at GFS is an enlarged replica, cast in bronze. When I mentioned the use of plaster bandage by George Segal (Depression Bread Line), he noted that Segal molded plaster bandage over fully dressed human models. Ward, in contrast, built up his sculpture with plaster bandage, without the use of a human model.

Jubilant Dancer

Original

Original

Jubilant Dancer


Some of the other items that he had on display outside his studio showed an interesting use of multi-media and color, along with carved wood figures.

IMG_0312[1]Michelle Post presents a whimsical view of life through her works. Her sculpture, Post Industrial (a play on her name), is done in painted Styrofoam, which she likes to use because it is easy to cut, quick to develop into what she wants to create, and light to handle.

Post Industrial

Post Industrial

Tronies

Tronies

She became interested in carving heads from Styrofoam, and has developed a series which she calls “Tronies.” A collection of ten of her Tronies have been selected to be cast in aluminum and displayed in the amphitheater at GFS later in 2013.

Autin Wright is one of the few sculptors I had met previously — during a tour of the Johnson Atelier, where he is the technical supervisor for Paint and Patina. He has several works on display at GFS, including Carmelita, the serpent-like fiberglass creature that seems to emerge from the pond in back of the Seward Johnson Center for the Arts. I questioned him about the name, as I had read somewhere that Carmelita was the name of his mother. He said that he named the sculpture in honor of his mother. When I questioned why he would name a serpent after his mother, he said that it was not a negative inference of how he felt for her. He does not necessarily give a descriptive name to a work of art. In this case, he wanted to honor her by naming a work of art after her.

We also discussed his marble sculpture in the Water Garden, called Free Form III. Interestingly, the sculpture, which is based on the leaves of a tulip, was supposed to have a stem growing up from the space between the two leaves. In fact, there was a stem in his original, smaller version. Somehow, the stem got lost when he created the larger version in marble. He pointed out that there is a space between the two leaves, which is easily seen on the smaller original. The larger version is too big to easily look down and see that there is a space there.

Original, table - top size

Free Form III

Original, table top size

While looking at the original in his studio, I asked him if it was made from granite, and then stared in disbelief when he said that it was painted cast bronze. My immediate reaction was, “How can you paint bronze to look exactly like granite?” Then I realized that I was talking to the supervisor of Paint and Patina from the Atelier. In fact, below is another tabletop model in his studio, one that is also bronze painted to look just like granite.

Bronze, painted to look like granite

Bronze, painted to look like granite

This wraps up the first part of my discoveries and impressions from the Artists in Action event at the Motor Exhibits Building on March 23, 2013. I will continue with my observations in a following blog.

Bob Levine is a volunteer docent at Grounds For Sculpture. With a background in computers, he taught college Computer Science in New Jersey for ten years.  He then spent the next twenty or so years as a self-employed training consultant, developing and teaching training courses for various companies. Bob lives in Monroe Township, NJ, with his wife Lynn.

The Story Behind Mark Parsons’ “Red Line”

Tags

,

By Mark Parsons, Artist in Residence at Grounds For Sculpture

I recently finished a large sculpture titled Red Line that is made from a ton of recycled cotton pulp. It is about the transition of “idea” to “drawing” to “object” – and back again. Red Line is developed from collaborative drawings that were done while I was an Artist in Residence at Grounds for Sculpture: I gave people a piece of paper and asked volunteers to draw the homes they grew up in.

A piece of paper at the table is a private surface, however once they were finished I asked them all to re-draw on a shared piece of paper that was 8 1/2 by 11 feet.

All the personal drawings and memories were woven together through this process, and the resulting “map” became the basis for me to develop the sculpture.

Red Line will be on exhibition for 5 months at Grounds for Sculpture before it is installed outside. Once it’s outside, parts of it will fall away. It will transition from a drawing to a sculpture, or from a sculpture to a drawing – depending on how you want to understand it.

For more information on this project, go to Red Line.

For a studio interview just published by Ground Arts that gives Mark Parsons an opportunity to step back from the work and talk about “why,” click HERE.
 
 

A Trail of Breadcrumbs – The Sixth Episode

Tags

, ,

By Jerry Williams, Volunteer Docent at Grounds For Sculpture

Volunteers at Grounds For Sculpture have a monthly educational meeting. Our guests at one meeting late last year were from The Sculpture Foundation, the force behind Sculpture On The Way. They used to produce a full color brochure on the artwork included in the program. When we asked when it would be updated to include the many additions since last publication, we were advised that it was not practical to keep updating the brochure because the artwork itself keeps changing. They suggested someone amongst us volunteers take up a similar project.

Well, the individual who asked the question coincidentally had the same name as me. So, I picked up the thrown gauntlet, grabbed my camera and hit the road. I’ve traversed these roads and seen these sculptures countless times, but I never gave a second thought to photographing them. I quickly discovered that a weekday afternoon was not going to work if I wanted to capture all of the pieces. So I shot a few and decided to come back on the next Saturday morning.

I headed north on I-295 and pulled to the shoulder across from Head 2 Head. There’s not much traffic on this road at about 8 a.m. on a Saturday, but there is still some. I quickly picked up my camera with a telephoto lens and shot off a group of pictures of the sculpture across six lanes of highway plus a grass median — this while cars whizzed by on both sides of the roadway.

Done there, I went further up the highway and turned around to come back to exit 65B from the north. As soon as you come off this exit, the first thing you see is Comprehension by Seward Johnson. It was this piece that drove home the realization that certain installations of public art are meant to be seen only in passing. I should have realized it after photographing Head 2 Head on a busy Interstate Highway, but it sunk in here. There is simply no place to stop safely and take some photos, even early on a Saturday morning.

Over the next hour or two I shot a bunch of photos. When I got home, I loaded them into my computer and printed out what I thought were the best ones of each piece. The following week, I met with Lynn DeClemente, the registrar for The Sculpture Foundation. I showed her what I shot and she identified those pieces I could not. She also pointed me to pieces I had missed, or didn’t know about, and let me know of a few pending additions. Without Lynn’s invaluable assistance and guidance, I would not have been able to complete this project.

So, the following Sunday, camera in hand along with a big cup of coffee, I once again headed out. The sculptures on and around the NJ Transit train station property were easy to capture on Sunday morning as it’s not a busy place then. Across the road is the Congoleum plant and I spent some time on their property shooting whatever I could of the surrounding art.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of all was trying to fully capture Crossing Paths by Seward Johnson. This monumental piece was not yet installed when I took on this project. It is sited to best be seen from the adjacent train track. Thus, from the road (East State Street Extension), all you can see is the back. Well, I was determined to shoot the piece from the front and knew the area pretty well. So I set out to go to the other side of the tracks and get a few good photos. The other side of the tracks is also industrial, including trucking firms and the like. As you can imagine, early Sunday does not bring much activity to light industrial areas so I was the lone car in the area. I drove up and down side streets across from the work but could not get a clear view of it. While I sipped my coffee I contemplated the risk versus reward of entering private property to get closer to the tracks. Wisdom won out and I drove back to the other side of the tracks and moved on to the other works.

The piece on Klockner Road by NottinghamHigh School (Long Forms by Mark Power) presented its own problems. Before doing my early weekend morning excursions, I drove by the high school a number of times before I could even distinguish the piece from the surrounding trees. I briefly thought of pulling over and taking a few shots but quickly stifled those thoughts. Imagine an older gentleman (me) driving up to a high school during school hours and sticking a camera with a telephoto lens out the window. Once again, wisdom won out and I decided to capture this on a weekend trip.

Tulip by Seymour Ikenson presented another problem. At the time I was doing this project (early 2012), the former Siperstein’s paint store was being demolished and a new Walgreen’s was replacing it. The construction site was fenced off and there was rubble surrounding the sculpture. Across the street is a Wawa in whose lot I sat, with another cup of coffee, pondering how I could capture the work without including all the construction detritus. Bottom line was that I couldn’t and the photo included in Episode V is taken from The Sculpture Foundation website.

This project made me realize that there are two types of public (actually there are probably more than that). One is sculpture that is intended to be enjoyed while passing by. These pieces are usually monumental and are not designed to be seen up close and personal. Most of the works in Sculpture On The Way fall into this category. They are placed in locations not convenient or safe for pedestrians. The other type is those that can and perhaps should be looked at up close and personal. First Ride and Daedalus come to mind as good examples of this type.

Sculpture On The Way is not stagnant. Since I undertook this project, Hitchhiker and Crossing Paths were added. Los Mariachis and Turn of the Century were moved to a new location and joined by Whispering Close and Time For Fun. The vacated location was filled with God Bless America. It is not beyond belief that before you read this final episode, yet another change will have taken place on Sculpture On The Way. Just as a breadcrumb path succumbs to changes from wind and animals, so too does Sculpture On The Way.

I hope you enjoyed this excursion as much as I did preparing it. The next time you go to Grounds For Sculpture, or to the NJ Transit train station, or have any reason to be in the area, perhaps you’ll look at this marvelous collection in a slightly different light. It was a pleasure chatting with you.

A Trail of Breadcrumbs – The Fifth Episode

Tags

, , , , ,

By Jerry Williams, Volunteer Docent at Grounds For Sculpture

I’m glad you could join me again for our exploration of Sculpture On The Way, a program of The Sculpture Foundation. Today, we’re going to finish up the remaining pieces, some of which are in places you may never have seen before.

Across from Mr. Rat, which was discussed in the last episode, is Schatz’s Spaceship (Inspired by the Oloid) by Eva Calder-Powel who has several pieces in Sculpture On The Way as mentioned in earlier episodes. While my arithmetic is rather good, I must confess to a lack of knowledge of more advanced mathematics. But, since the full name includes it, I will attempt to describe an oloid. It is a geometric shape created by intersecting two disks of equal radius at right angles to each other. The distance between the centers of each disk is exactly equal to the radius. The name of the piece pays homage to Paul Schatz who created the oloid in the 19th century. While Shatz’s Spaceship appears to be made of wood and quite heavy, it is actually made of aluminum.

Many, including me, have commented that it looks similar to the front end of an old ChrisCraft boat. Back when East State Street Extension was a bustling manufacturing center, ChrisCraft had a plant there making the seats and cushions that went into those elegant boats. Perhaps the artist and The Sculpture Foundation saw this piece as a connection to the area’s rich industrial past.

Photo credit: The Sculpture Foundation

We now move off the beaten path and go over to Klockner Road, near the intersection with Hamilton Avenue. In front of NottinghamHigh School is a sculpture by Mark Power called Long Forms. It’s made of bronze and appears as though it might be two fingers twisted together at the top, like crossed fingers. Although this piece is out of the way for most folks approaching Grounds For Sculpture, it is, nonetheless, part of Sculpture On The Way.

About a block away, at the intersection of Klockner Road and Nottingham Way is Tulip by Seymour Ikerson. It was originally planted in front of a Siperstein’s paint store. That store has been razed and replaced with a Walgreen’s, yet Tulip remains.

Most folks will approach Grounds For Sculpture via the Sloan Avenue West exit off I-295 (65B). Those who unquestioningly take the advice of their GPS devices will take exit 63, leading onto Nottingham Way. Although traveling this route will cause one to miss most of Sculpture On The Way, The Sculpture Foundation saw fit to install a few pieces for these folks to enjoy on their way. The first to be seen is Tulip.

Ahead, about a quarter mile or so on the right hand side is Hitchhiker, another piece by Seward Johnson. It’s a realistic sculpture of a man standing on the side of the road with his thumb out and a hand lettered cardboard sign around his neck announcing his intended destination as Grounds For Sculpture. The realism in this piece is seen in the second photo where one can see the corrugations of the cardboard, yet this sculpture is made of bronze. It is the last piece, as of this writing, in the Sculpture On The Way series.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our little chats on these awesome works of public art placed to whet the viewers’ appetites as they make their way to Grounds For Sculpture. These breadcrumbs have been scattered about to let you know that you’re getting close to your destination. But, they are more than that. As pulic art, they are there for the enjoyment of all who pass them each and every day or night.

My last episode will look at why I undertook this project and I’ll share a few stories about photographing public art.

The Art of Michael Amter

Tags

,

By Louise Witonsky, Volunteer Docent at Grounds For Sculpture

The docents and other volunteers at Grounds For Sculpture have monthly meetings to share information and hear presentations by visiting artists.  At one of our recent meetings, artist Michael Amter spoke while showing some of his challenging cutting edge video experimentation.

Michael was born in Teaneck, NJ, yet seems to have spent some time nearly everywhere- his family lived in many states when he was growing up.  Currently working in Brooklyn, Michael has been part of a number of artist residencies including in France, Singapore, and Japan.

The artist’s childhood showed a rather zealous drawing and painting addiction.  He was clearly influenced by his own battle with a form of manic depression and has encountered some daunting moments during his life. In the limited time at the meeting  for discussion,  research was cited that “shows a very much elevated rate of depression and manic depression in people who are highly creative.”

Michael has been involved in a variety of endeavors.  He spoke of some of his memories of exhibiting in a wild alternative gallery on Melrose Blvd while living in the midst of downtown Los Angeles in the early 90′s.   He had spent many years working in film and television production that inspired personal experiments with these powerful contemporary mediums.  Over time, his growth in the use of these modern technological venues has become consistent with his personal expression.

A recent solo show at the hip Aferro Gallery titled Fall From Grace was quite ambitious.  A comprehensive installation throughout the large space in Newark, NJ, included projected film, recycled computer displays, and related print material — all presenting a romantic contemplation of moral dilemmas and religious motifs. A video sample projected in the show inspired by John Milton, William Blake and others was shown at our meeting and can be seen here:  Fall Video.  A special piece created for the Meridian International Center’s 9-11 tribute that travelled around the world was included by request in  the US Library of Congress.  Michael Amter worked with NYC’s Creative Time, producing a number of limited prints for the Dreamland Project in Coney Island, NY.  His latest solo exhibition titled Itoshima reflected upon the local environment and local cultural themes he confronted upon his visit to Japan. It involved a video installed within an antique rice storage facility, and was done for an artist organization, Studio Kura, located just outside Fukouka, Japan.  A video sample produced for this exhibit can be viewed here.

We enjoyed Michael’s presentation and his looped ‘moving sketches’ which imitate contemporary genres, resembling instructional scientific cartoons that play upon brief attention spans.  Themes are clearly focused on life and the various influences we often take for granted such as gravity, space, and time; they compound the human condition, impacting the past and future. He employs a simple graphic imagery creating a complexity which challenges the viewer to ponder.  One could relate the work to Paul Klee in a very contemporary vision or Man Ray’s experimental endeavors, but comparisons would not fully capture the pure individual presence in Michael’s expression.  To separate this prolific work from the young artist’s persona would be nearly impossible.  It is him, being unique in nature. This is an artist who seems to be ahead of his time, but his roots in popular culture make this work stand out from the traditional norms in the fine art community.

Bamboo, 2011

Subway X, 2011

Harvester, 2011

Family Wrapper, 2011

The art for this post comes from Michael Amter.

A Trail of Breadcrumbs – The Fourth Episode

Tags

,

By Jerry Williams, Volunteer Docent at Grounds For Sculpture

Hello again. Today we’ll chat a bit about those pieces that appear to be part of Sculpture On The Way, but are actually not part of The Sculpture Foundation’s program. Along Sloan Avenue, in front of the NJ Transit train station and behind Fisher Stolz’s Sphere of Influence is Transit by Clyde Lynds. This installation is part of the public art program required of all new government construction in New Jersey. It was installed when the train station was built. Transit is a stainless steel sphere perched on an inverted pyramid over a tapered white column. Within the sphere is a mirror designed to rotate at night, reflecting a xenon light housed in the white pylon. When first installed, Transit’s light did indeed pierce the night with its beam. However, it was deemed to be a hazard to planes approaching the airspace of nearby Trenton-Mercer Airport and no longer shines at night.

For those of you who have been to the State House Complex in Trenton in the past ten years or so, Clyde Lynds is the artist who also created Confluence, the large pillared fountain adjoining an engraved map of Trenton as it was in post Revolutionary Way days, and the low wall containing the engraved names of every municipality in New Jersey.

Over on East State Street Extension, just past Ghat by Harry Gordon, is the site of Princetel, a business specializing in fiber optic communications. The owner of this business is an art aficionado and had two pieces commissioned for his property. On one side of the property is an unnamed piece by John Clement of Firehouse Studios in Brooklyn. The artist says that the curvilinear shapes draw the viewer into its space, offering inviting places to sit, lean, or even stand on.

On the other side of the Princetel property is a piece designed by the company’s owner. It is based on Matisse’s The Fall of Icarus. You may recall that in our last episode, we discussed Alexander Liberman’s Daedalus, and that Daedalus was a Greek architect and inventor who designed and built the wings that Icarus infamously flew into the sun. These two pieces are about one hundred yards from each other.

Sculpture On The Way was originally intended to be the catalyst for property owners in the area to add sculptures of their own. The placement of this version of The Fall of Icarus so close to Daedalus is a marvelous realization of the original dream.

Over on Sculptors Way, just across from the road to Rat’s Restaurant is Seward Johnson’s Mr. Rat. He is holding a cane perpendicular to his body seemingly pointing the way to Rat’s. For a brief time there was a banner hanging from the cane with the Rat’s Restaurant logo on it. This piece is not part of Sculpture On The Way but, rather, a directional marker for the restaurant.

As of now, that’s all the pieces along the way not officially part of Sculpture On The Way. In our next episode we’ll finish up on the Sculpture On The Way pieces. We’ll close this series with a chat about why I undertook this project with a story or two about the process of photographing public art. I hope you’ll join me again.

All photographs courtesy the author.

 

 

 

 

Interview with Sculptor G. Frederick Morante

Tags

, ,

By Bob Levine, Volunteer Docent at Grounds For Sculpture

I have always been a person who is attracted to the different and unusual. On one of my earliest visits to Grounds For Sculpture, I noticed a statue in the Water Garden of two male figures attached to opposite sides of a beam, parallel to the ground.

The sculpture, of course, is Relative, by G. Frederick Morante. On a recent tour of the Atelier for new(er) docents, I met Fred Morante, who conducted the part of the tour which covered the Digital Atelier. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after the tour that I discovered that he was the sculptor of Relative, and others that I had also noticed at GFS. Fred was generous enough to spend a short time with me recently discussing his works, and I want to share what I learned with you.

Not being an especially creative person, I always wondered how a sculptor (or any artist) gets the specific inspiration that leads to creation of a work of art. In this situation, Fred had made the observation that frequently a person gets involved in a discussion with another person, but neither one really listens to what the other is saying. Each is so focused on presenting his/her own point of view, that they end up turning what should be a dialogue into a series of two monologues. Sometimes, in fact, each is trying to make the very same point, but doesn’t realize it.

This observation that people sometimes express opinions without really listening to the other, and that there are times when they even say the same thing differently, led Fred to the idea for Relative. While it may not be immediately obvious, the two nude figures are duplicates, rather than mirror images. This reinforces the idea of both saying the same thing.

He originally sketched out the sculpture with the supporting beam parallel to the ground and the two male figures one over the other. One day he happened to look at his sketchbook from the side, and immediately liked the different perspective, which is what we see today in the finished work. When you observe the sculpture from the front, the posture of the two figures is not readily apparent. If you move to the side, however, you immediately become aware that the figures are hunched somewhat forward, and therefore looking at each other. That is part of what he is trying to express in this sculpture – two people are looking at each other and conversing, but not really communicating.

The specific pose with the right hand on the right knee and the left arm crossed onto it, is a sign of insecurity. The result gives the impression that each is looking for approval from the other, but won’t get it because they are both saying the same thing, and neither one is listening to the other. The name for the sculpture came to him early in the process of creation, as his intent was to show that all things are relative.

As is his usual practice, he first created a half life-sized form of a man bent over in the pose that we see in Relative. After that was completed, he then had it reproduced digitally and enlarged to life size. This half life-sized original is currently outside his studio in the Motor Exhibit Building. Standing up on a pedestal, it is easy to see just how bent over the figure really is.

The visual impact on me of Relative is at least as great today as it was the first time that I saw it. Now that I know something of the background of the development of the sculpture, especially coming first hand from the sculptor himself, makes it even more meaningful to me – relatively speaking, of course.

The other sculpture that I discussed with Fred was Nude Descending the Stare Case, which we see on the upper right-hand corner of the Seward Johnson Center for the Arts.  This sculpture is actually a second version – the first having been a half life-size version formerly in the Water Garden.

When he originally created and displayed this sculpture, the nude was actually hanging from a pedestal. Its inspiration was the three strong women in Fred’s life as a youngster – his mother and two older sisters. He started the sculpture with some sketches while in college, and completed the original version about seven years later.

I always try to find meaning in the title of a sculpture, and this one is quite simple. Fred considers himself a punster, and thus the nude figure is descending the “Stare Case.” In this case, the name came after the sculpture was completed.

Fred first came to the Johnson Atelier in 1977, and has been here ever since. He is currently a Department Coordinator in the Digital Atelier, and is the Head Modeler. I personally think that the latter title is perfect for a punster like Fred. He led us on a highly informative tour of the Digital Atelier when I first met him, and was very generous in spending some time with me recently. Best of all, Fred is a genuine RNG (Real Nice Guy).

The Mystique and Technique of Alan B. Tuttle

Tags

, ,

By Mari Plowman, Contributor

The endlessly arguable question, “Does art mimic society or does society reflect art?” assumes a panoply of meanings through the masterful hand and eye of Alan B. Tuttle. With content—his vision of a specific aspect of nature or society—dominating each piece of Tuttle’s work, he begins the creative process by writing a paragraph or two in his sketchbook. Drawing from words as the preliminary figurative outline for a sculpture or painting, he targets his personal message behind the medium. His sights are set not on public applause or accolades, but on whether he has grasped the elusive bar that unifies subjective and objective meaning. Do observers see what the artist saw through his mind’s eye? “If so, then the piece is a success by the most important definition”, says Alan.

In “My Nirvana” his goal was to capture that mystical condition of rest, harmony and joy that is indeed the nirvana of a cool Adirondack morning at the moment the sun crests the trees; the moment to experience the freshness of new beginnings; a new day when the cool air makes the senses tingle and cleanses the mind to make way for becoming one with your surroundings.

Early in his self-taught career, Alan B. Tuttle was a young exchange student in Madrid with scant financial resources but a wealth of time to spend roaming the halls of the Prado and other famed museums throughout the city. He became intimately acquainted with the works of Velasquez, El Greco, and Goya among the many masters he visited time and time again. When he wasn’t studying their actual works, he read voraciously about the old masters and their techniques. He learned about, and then emulated such things as panel preparation; the application of ground gesso sanded between each of as many as thirty layers. He explored and analyzed each drawing for composition, values and accuracy before beginning to paint. At the time he had never heard of the Italian term Chiaroscuro, which literally translates as light and shadow and emphasizes the interplay of values without color. His treatment of these layers of light and dark gradually evolved into his signature approach to underpainting.   Because of his inherent sensitivities, and because he understood the impact on us all, Alan  intently studied how society was reflected through symbolism and subject matter. Perhaps it is the viewer’s impression of these earlier works, coupled with their often stern message, that cast his work as dark or dismal. His interest in social conditions revealing all aspects of the human state, whether on a grand or personal scale, and of the universe that surrounds mankind, remains central to much of his work today. Indeed, his interest has lead to noteworthy commissions portraying politics, religion and social agendas from his vantage.

The man and his method: From time to time Alan paints in plein air, occasionally dancing with delight between or during brush strokes! Most creations follow the same progression: Rapid thumbnail sketches set the composition. A detailed drawing is next, usually done from life on location directly onto the canvas. Then–and this is critical to the process–comes the monochromatic underpainting to develop the “values” of the work. Lastly, a progression of glazes builds form and color. “At times there can be dozens of layers of glaze application before I am satisfied”, emphasizes Alan.

Traditional, but never appearing to be tedious; executed accurately and painstakingly, yet frequently reflecting as much joy as sorrow; each layer of a Tuttle work seems to exceed the expectations that came before it. Alan B. Tuttle is a most deserving artist of our time and place. He is a man whose every fiber resonates through his enduring creations. His art continues to delight, chide and tantalize us by capturing an originality of premise and execution heretofore left at large by others.

The photos below show the process of painting “My Nirvana.”

Photographs Courtesy the Artist.

Other works and their process can be seen on facebook under Alan B. Tuttle. www.facebook.com/abtuttle.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 82 other followers