THE ANGEL'S STORY Chapter #19
POST- RISD (Working from home Library Art Show names)
The education of an artist is a lifelong process. Art School gets the basics for you. Then you are on your own, out there in the real world where the education in your chosen field really begins. As for myself, all hale and glory go to TV, the VCR, CDs and the DVD. I am hooked on television. TV is the cheapest University going! For a couple of dollars, I can travel the world attending the greatest performances ever, of Music, Opera and Theater. I can revisit Shakespeare again and again. I watch Television as much as I can without getting sick in my stomach. The TV is always on in my house, night and day. So is my radio or perhaps a CD or DVD. I am afraid that I will miss something on Bravo station or PBS. At last, with the introduction of the high tech stuff, anyone who wants to can spend time with the greatest minds and creators from both the past and present. I can view the many versions of the life of Jesus or trace the History of Judaism, take a course in Western Civilization, stroll through the world's finest museums of Art and wander through the dynasty’s of China.
Working from home is the absolute best. At home, you can view and review your materials as often as needed. For example, videotape allowed me to know intimately for the first time, the choreography of Choo San Goh in his ballet, “Configurations.” This modern masterpiece, commissioned by dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov, is set to the music of Samuel Barber’s piano concerto . This Ballet debuted with American Ballet Theater in 1981. It took my breath away! Two of my favorite works were drawn directly from this ballet.
( See File #209 and File #224.)
Choreographers: George Balanchine, Mark Morris, David Bintley, Sir Frederick Ashton, Jules Perrot: Lev Ivanov: Marius Petipa; Jean Coralli and Maurice Bejart, moved into my living room, accompanied by the composers, whose music forge life into your soucol and make your heart sing. I have spent many hours with Danny Kaye in his Film, “Hans Christian Anderson,” studying his body movements and extraordinary use of his hands. He moves like a panther. His hands, speak more eloquently than the words from his mouth. Danny Kaye had wonderful hands! I have tried to capture these unique movements and those of Choo San Goh in my sculpture.
With each new video and DVD, my passion for dance grew and became a part of my every day life. “Swan Lake;” “Giselle;” “Sleeping Beauty” and of course “The Nutcracker” were carefully studied. Brilliant films like “ Amadeus,” “ The Turning Point,” and “To Kill a Mocking Bird” are valuable and treasured resources because
I could spend time with the exceptional minds that put these films together. “Turning Point,” was my first video experience. I had never seen a film more than once. Going to the movies was expensive and one did not spend money to go see a movie twice. As children, we were lucky if we got to go see a film once. It never occurred to us to see it twice. Now I could see a film, over and over and study it. I would come to understand that one could recognize a film’s maker in the same way one might recognize a work by Bach or Beethoven, even if you had never seen the film before. This was a revelation.
The VCR opened up a whole new way of thinking and seeing and learning about film production and construction. Videos have expanded my understanding and definition of fine art. In “ Turning Point ” for example, a simple story about ballet and how this art form is passed down from one generation to another, each character has her own musical theme and her own color palette too. Young dancers were always portrayed in soft pastel colors but finished, mature dancers were delineated in strong colors, like black and red and white. Mediocrity, portrayed by Shirley MacClaine, was costumed in drab earth-toned cottons. She wears opaque orange beads about her neck and is served up with beer, and only beer. The true artist however, the true classical dancer, portrayed by Anne Bancroft, is dressed in high fashion, conservative, well tailored clothing. Her palette is black, gray and white. She wears pearls around her neck and is served only with Champaign! Their respective residences are presented in similar manners. Mediocrity has three children while the True Artist has three dogs instead. Now that is quite a statement!
I have been using the chairs from the kitchen scenes in “To Kill A Mockingbird”, as part of my sculptures for the past twenty years. Those very special chairs lend themselves to solving sculptural problems, metallurgically speaking, in the casting process, while still remaining true to the artistic requirements of the artist. If I had selected a beautiful and very expensive Windsor chair to use with my sculpture, it would not have been visually successful, because the casting process would have reduced the bulk of the wood in the chair to spindly sticks in bronze, thus loosing all of the integrity of its’ design. Why does this happen?
Because, whenyou make a rubber mold from a wooden chair and pull it off of the wooden chair, the rubber mold shrinks a little bit. When hot wax is poured into the rubber mold and the wax cools, the wax reproduction of the chair also shrinks in size. The wax reproduction of the chair is completely covered (invested) with a thick ceramic mixture, which hardens around the wax chair. This hardened ceramic mixture which houses the wax chair with in it, is then placed in a very hot oven. The heat of course, melts the wax inside of the ceramic mold. The wax drips out of the bottom of the mold and then we are left with an empty ceramic mold. (Because the wax is melted out of the mold, this method of casting bronze is called the “Lost Wax” method.) Next, molten bronze is poured into the empty ceramic mold. When the hot bronze cools, it shrinks too. You are now three shrinks away from the original size of the wood in the Windsor chair. This is why the kitchen chairs are so successful with my sculptures. It is because the common kitchen chair has enough bulk in its’ frame that it can stand up to the shrinking process and still retain its’ original identity and shape, where as the very beautiful Windsor chair cannot. You never know where such jewels will come from but you have a pretty good chance at finding whatever you need, if you spend time with the world’s best filmmakers.
My life as a sculptor was well underway in 1973, when I had my first exhibition at the Isabelle Hurlbutt Gallery in the Greenwich Library. Forty minutes before the opening of the exhibition, the curator of the show insisted, that all sculptures and paintings must have proper titles. I labeled my sculptures with numbers: #1 #2 #3 #4 etc. Another artist also had listed her paintings with numbers. Since numbers were not acceptable, we had to come up with titles for our works with only forty minutes to go before the show opened. The painter grabbed a thesaurus and opened it up to a random page. Tracing her finger downward to the middle of the page she said: “Ah- ha! Here is the title for my painting! “Dual Directrix in Space” She turned the page and picked out another random title for her paintings. “But that title does not mean anything,” said I. “Doesn’t matter,” said she. “We are running out of time!” “Well, I’m going to name my sculptures after the people I love and those who have helped me to become an artist. Mummy and Daddy, teachers, friends, and heroes will do.” And so, I jotted down a list of their names. Then the curator pulled this list from my hands and proceeded to cut it up with her scissors and affixed the titles indiscriminately. Some of the sculptures had male names. Some had female names but the gender of the names did not necessarily match the gender of the sculptures!
The morning after the show, a review was posted by the Greenwich Times Newspaper. The one thing, which really confounded them, was the title of a small female child titled: Dr. George L. Tunick. They just could not understand the strange titles attached to the Kelsey bronzes! (By the way, George Tunick was our beloved family physician.) This is how the tradition, using real names began. I have continued to name the sculptures after real people and to give them, first middle and last names. Later on, I added locations to their titles as well. I mean Edgar (Edgar de Gas) was from the town of Gas so why not have my people also have a place to come from. For example: Cadwallader-Washburn-Kelsey-of-Greenwich or Richard-E-Deutsch-of-Cherry-Valley-Road. This practice started out as a joke. The gender may or may not match. The names attached to my work, are my way of saying thank you to those who have, in one way or another, helped to make my lifetime career in sculpture possible. I was lucky enough to sell several pieces at this show and also received a commission for a life-sized piece of sculpture. The Greenwich Library is a great place for young artists to get started!
THE ANGEL'S STORY CHAPTER #20
Lockerbie is a little town in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Southwestern Scotland. On December 21,1988, Pan American’s Flight #103 was blow up by Islamic extremists, killing all on board and eleven more on the ground. There were a 270 fatalities. My neighbor Bob Pagnucco of South Salem, New York, was among the victims of this tragedy. This incident touched me deeply. I was outraged at the loss of life. It brought home for the first time, a true understanding and recognition of the debt we owe our military. At the same time, my heart went out to the families of those who lost members in the village of Lockerbie. I wanted them to know, that we cared as much for their losses, as we did for our own. This terrible event inspired me to build a small angel in bronze for their memorial garden. I named the little Angel “Joy,” because I wanted to celebrate the lives of those lost, not their deaths. “Joy” was shipped quietly to Lockerbie as a gift from our country to their country. Very quietly, with no fan fare, just hoping, one on one, to bring a bit of comfort to the town.
Fast forward to: One day in the Spring of 2008, a man named Kent Sterett from York, Pennsylvania, Googled himself, to discover that there are 110 one R’d Steretts in the United States! Kent is a volunteer with the Sterett Association: a citizen support group for Navy personnel onboard the U.S.S. Sterett: a DDG-104 Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer. Kent was in search of as many descendents of the Sterett family as possible, in order to invite them to attend the commissioning of the newest U.S.S. Sterett. She would be the fourth ship named in honor of American Hero, Andrew Sterett who served during the Quasi-War and Barbary Wars.
It was during his search for one R’d Steretts, that Kent happened upon my website and discovered the sculpture titled: “Joy,” the Lockerbie Angel. He then contacted me and commissioned a copy to be permanently installed on board the U.S.S. Sterett for her commissioning in Baltimore Harbor on August 9, 2008. The Steretts are direct descendents of my family on my mother’s side, who come from Baltimore, so I was delighted and honored to receive the commission, which was sponsored by the Navy League of the United States. I also wrote a short poem for the occasion titled: “Love Letter from Home.” The poem, engraved on a small brass plaque, was also installed onboard the U.S.S. Sterett.
Love Letter from Home:
“Dearest One, I’m counting on you. Keep the Light of Liberty bright. I so appreciate what you are doing for me. I miss you Sweetheart, You make the Sun shine. I am with you now, Every step of the way, Keeping you close, In my thoughts, In my prayers. Cherished above all, You are precious to me. Come home safely. Come home soon. All my love, America.”
The weather was perfect and thousands of people showed up for the commissioning ceremonies. When attending such an event, you become intensely aware of our own countrymen, serving onboard the Sterett, dedicating their lives to protecting you and your country. This knowledge, up close and personal, is awe-inspiring and emotional.
Someone said to me that day, that “Joy “ was the only Guardian Angel in the military. I do not know if this is true or not, but it started a new kind of thinking, somewhere in the back of my mind that day. I remember saying to myself. “ Mmmmm… I guess she has more work to do!” I wasn’t sure of course, just what that work would be. It was merely, a seed of an idea for a Someday, or Sometime, One day, or Maybe?