This is one of my first large scale installations. I was hired to build a stone deck and then let my passion and exuberance for the daydream you see carry me away. When I sketched this structure for the client, they shook their heads and said it couldn't be done for the price they were willing to pay. They were right. I ended up with work experience in lieu of profit. But I did build my dream and learned the true costs of materials and labor when creating these unique hybrids of sculpture and structure. When it was done and I sat in the bed of my truck, petting my loyal dog's head. I knew, well, I hoped, time would judge it as something worthwhile.
Corbusier was always a large book in my lap as I grew up. La Cathedrale De Ronchamp of 1954 is my intellectual beacon here. His overscale use of radius turned cement in the grossly large but divine roof is amazing. His chaotic, misshapen windows that are more portals to the soul, insanely beautiful. The totemic figures owe to my forever Mayan fascination. They are grandfather, grandmother, father and mother with child. Inside each bay separating them is a circular ring of recessed lights that illuminate at night to make this massive structure look like a giant spacecraft with rockets glowing as it prepares to depart.
1997 / Washington, Ct.
After the financial disaster of "Transport" I vowed never to put myself in that position again. I learned very quickly how expensive are the materials, trucking and machine work that this scale of work requires. And so I got back on my feet with this sculptural pergola.
I wanted to create something with airy solidity, with curvaceous gravitas. I had been reading 2 books, one on the evolutionary links of whales to dinosaurs and another on the amazing American Arts & Crafts fine home and furnishings design world of the California coast brothers, Charles and Henry Greene. Their attention to the smallest details, down to designing unique handles specific to each door in a home is still stunning to see, now a hundred years later.
Their style vernacular inspired these stone pillars, smooth on one face and flamed on another. The project here, thankfully, moved along without incident and might have even been fun. I've long noticed that when an author enjoys the actual writing process, I enjoy reading the results of that process. My stone poems, when they work, read the same way.
1998 / Redding, Ct.
This idyllic bog was once a war zone. That is what a full scale industrial quarry operation looked like a hundred plus years ago. Scorched earth everywhere. Every single tree cut down for staging and planks and firewood. Every plant trampled. Every living creature driven away or killed.
The Finnish immigrants who labored here in the 1800's produced the highest grade granite in America. It was famously second only to diamonds for hardness. The walls of the Lincoln Tunnel are made from this stone.
When I received the commission to build a sculpture here, the only prerequisite was that I go vertical. I welcomed this constraint as my eyes always ended up in the sky anyway. I would try to imagine work life in a quarry surrounded by the high stone walls of this prison, my cell hole getting deeper as the years dug in.
I sat for a full week in all weather by the bog's edge watching, listening and waiting for something to appear. The incredible vertigo inducing inward tilt of the iron stained granite walls reminded me of the settings in the unforgettable 1920 German Expressionist silent horror film, "The Cabinet of Dr. Calgari" I was intrigued by the striking white streaks of lime that formed a sort of geologic bar code along one side of the former working quarry. Men labored under this menacing wall and now I wanted to reference the way it was once a daily threat to their liberation. Having spent enough years in quarries, I can tell you there is nothing romantic about them.
Bogs, on the other hand, are not dead zones. Turtles, frogs, snakes, ducks, lizards and millions of aquatic and airborne insects call it home. Under the water, trillions of biological organisms have created universes of life.
I watched and listened and then saw this terrestrial monolith rising before me, imprinted on its sides with the biologic codes of the life forms that feed its growth.
In the way the extraterrestrial monolith in Kubrick's "Space Odyssey 2001" mesmerizes, I hoped this sculpture would be forever enigmatic, even unknowable.
The stone itself is Barre, Vermont granite. I did not outsource its production. I rented an unheated stone cutting shed in that sad old city and cut and carved all the components during a long winter intensive.
The bio forms swirl and fight and jostle for space and food and light as they rise and meet with fusion intensity at the top most, Mayan, thank you, hat box. Ironically, the stone itself has a high quartz content which means it will resist the growth of mold and mildew on its surface. There will be no Angkor Watt swallowing here. The enigma will remain.
Please see Gallery Fire for images of the actual installation.
2005 / Gloucester, Mass.