This column in Goodale Park in Columbus, Ohio, originally installed in 1899, has deteriorated badly. I have been commissioned by a Centennial Preservation Group to re-carve the heads. My proposal is to rebuild the missing parts with clay and then to re-carve new sandstone blocks to match the clay.
The gate and column were a gift in 1899 to the City’s first park. The original meanings of the column animals have been lost to time, although we do know that the eight human heads on the gate represent the eight stages of Man. The carving is masterful, and does not resemble any other carving in the Columbus area, that I know of. We know nothing of the original artist.
The tooling on the buff sandstone has survived remarkably well, and demonstrates the level of the craftsmanship brought to this column. The heads are about 9′ off the ground- too high to touch. The wear is likely from acid rain and the burning of coal for so many decades.
The cap came off easily, and we set it aside. After we had picked the section with the heads and put it on my truck, we put the cap back for safekeeping while the restoration is done in my studio.
Playing with big lifts and heavy things is always exciting. Although no one can really see it, the scalloped top is textured with one continuous spiral line from top to bottom.
This is the only original photo the historical committee could give me. Detail must be inferred. It is agreed the animal on the left is probably a panther, and that the one on the right is a lion. The ram, not show here, is extent enough to know it is a ram, but the fourth head was badly deteriorated and no known photo exists.
The ears, the eyes, a bit of the for head, and a grainy photo are all there is to go on, but that’s enough to conclude it was a stylized panther.
Part of an eye, droopy ears, and a bit of forehead seem to indicate the subject was a dog. No known photographs exist.
The ram is pretty much intact, and a hint at the style that may have been used for the other heads, although it does seem very different.
The lion head featured a bit of an ear, some mane, and pits indicating the height of the eyes. The source photo and the extent remains indicate this was a lion. Here I have started on the lion, and on the left is an early version of the panther.
Using an oil-based clay that gets softer with heat (I use an old Sunbeam electric skillet), I rebuilt the heads in full scale in my shop. This is an early stage of the panther. The lion is on the right, the dog on the left. The sandstone blocks are 16 1/2″ tall.
I was able to get a good start by making the right begin to mirror the left. At this stage I had to commit to something, and felt that the only defensible choice was a dog.
The red sandstone is the original carver’s work. I have tried throughout to do what I could to work in his style more than my own. I’ve learned during this process several pointers from the past.
The lion, nearly complete. I will add textural details in the sandstone when I recarve them.
The dog is as animated as I could get him, given the restraints.
I gave the panther a sneer, as the eyes sort of implied that, as did the source photo. He struck me as a tease, a mischief maker.
Comfest is a big deal in Columbus, Ohio. Each summer volunteers put on three days of music, activist opportunities, and fun. Last year the organizers decided to add sculpture and asked me to participate. I had these pieces left over from roughing out an earlier piece, and drilled them and glued in steel pins on one end. They were easy to plunge into the soft ground to build ever changing sculptures, some made by me alone, others with the help of the festival goers.
For three days I made a constantly evolving piece, with the help of the community. It was a lot of fun, and there were some interesting conversations and interactions. Doing Art in public is a riot.
The square gave way to the circle., one piece at a time. Each post weighs about thirty pounds. At the end of each day I was definitely feeling it.
This piece was done by gently tossing the posts through the air and letting them land as they may. I wish I had taken a video of this one. Several of us plucking the posts from the circle and tossing them around. Good times. Would have made great video.
This version is so relaxed it almost looks drunken.
After I had completed this one, a man approached and performed an amazing feat- he leaped them al, on after the other, without stopping and without blowing a single landing.
It was hilarious to watch the would-be ninjas try to balance on these structures, clearly a bit buzzed… not.
My friend Ashley came by (wonderful painter) and asked if I would do him as a chalk outline. He got way more than he asked for. No bumping the sculpture allowed!
And then he managed to crawl out without disturbing a single stone. Go Ashley!
Now ask yourself- how did he get out of there? Not for the faint of heart. He was VERY slow about it, I must say.
That is all balance, and in a very public and crowded space. Majestic, it was. And all by eye. No measuring tools were used throughout the festival.
This one occupied the most space and took the longest time to make. Very tricky- and very cool.
This subtle piece was done by a volunteer. I dig it.
Peace, Art, and good times on a summer day. Wonderful.
Ihad a great time. Thanks Comfest. What for next year, eh?
I was commissioned to create the focal sculpture for an Ohio park dedicated to our nation’s fallen First Responders. I created hundreds of different images of people doing very ordinary things; all of the poses are the sorts of things we all do every day, from walking the dog to playing a trumpet. I wanted to convey that any of us could have been targeted that day. Being asked to create a memorial sculpture for an event like 9/11 is beyond an honor; I felt an obligation to not only those that died that day, but to those of us living and doing our best not to forget. Working as a public sculptor is to be part of a memorial tradition as old as civilization.
Several of the first responders from New York’s Fire and Police departments came for the dedication.
The figures were each first drawn on paper, and then cut from sheet wax, which was then shaped and cast in stainless steel. Each stainless plate was then welded to the others to create a large steel “flame”.
Because the final sculpture has so many edges to catch the cover, a custom canvas cover was made to the right shape. After a few test runs the officer in charge of the unveiling figured out a technique, and the unveiling at the ceremony came off with no struggles.
The Honor Guard stood at attention for nearly an hour, amazingly motionlessly. They conveyed everything such an effort is expected to convey, and then some.
The architecture, lighting, granite, and fountain works were done by others, and they all did a fantastic job. Thanks guys!
These photos were all taken at the dedication by my daughter Amber, then fifteen.
If I remember, later I will crop this picture.
The piece at night casts amazing shadows on the entire area, and shimmers as the lights pass through the rippling water.
Thank you to everybody involved with this park!
This commission for a children’s fountain for a local outdoor mall involved several caricatures. Here the impatient frog prince stomps his foot as the slow snail gets ‘er dun.
A prince rides a checkered snail. Haven’t we all? The mall set me free to do as I found fit, with a budget. It was all fun and games until they decided the fountain should become another store. Now the critters crawl around my gardens, taking pictures.
There used to be a children’s fountain at Easton Town Center, and I was commissioned to do a series of silly animals for the kids (actually I was given a budget and a time frame and freedom to do what I thought best, so I did a series of silly animals). There was a working downspout drain there, so I did an overworked Momma Mouse doing the laundry with a needy Baby Mouse tugging at her as she works. When it rained it all made total sense, until somebody stole the t-shirt.
I guess it sort of makes sense even without the t-shirt. The fountain was eventually razed and a new store was built in it’s place. They psaid me to take the sculptures back, and I have them to this day.
The school marm worm in the apple seems to have had her fill of the students today. No matter how studious the teacher’s pet.
Man, I loved an all day sucker when I was a kid. And I loved having fun creating this preschool for the kids. These were there for several years. Hundreds of thousands of kids saw, touched, and maybe, remember them.
“Holy cow, mom! Ya ever see a balloon this big?” says the bug.
Preschool for the ladybugs of Easton Town Center. Everybody is paying attention.
Even the gymnasts are welcome, boisterous though they may be. But notice… no skateboarders.
Every chance for the critters to not roll of the pier post has been eliminated, and yet none of them have fallen. Must be the modern generation just doesn’t know how to behave.
Artists are always in awe.
I had so much fun imagining myself in kindergarten and picturing what kindergartners do with this project. I love that age.
Remember playing with the wooden blocks with numbers on them? I do. I loved those blocks.
Another of the Easton Children’s Fountain pieces. this is my Basset Hound discovering that his tail has been taken over by the Magic Clownfish above.
The Magic Clownfish laughs and laughs, and the Basset just gets more and more flustered.
Oh my, it’s all so fun!
There was a children’s fountain in an outdoor environment; I did a few child-friendly pieces, and it was fun, but eventually the fountain was converted to retail space, and the animals were removed. Such is retail life.
The idea was that animals existed inside the nearby stores. A bit ambitious for the budget, but for a while the kids enjoyed it, and I was grateful and proud anytime I went there.
I enjoyed this process, but I would enjoy it even more built in from the git go, as they say.