Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The End

The sun was high and warm in the blue sky as the air was chilled by the rain of the night before, the river running fast and furious with run-off. Kind words were spoken, speeches made, draped sculptures unveiled. Children gathered round for many smiles and pictures taken; laughs, hand shakes of secret clubs and finally hugs to say good-bye. But this is not the end. The patina of time will skin the four figures, their footings will cure and forms will be removed. New grass will be sewn, trees and shrubs planted, benches placed. And still the end will not be found. Visitors will come and walk among the sculptures, as they become familiar images and friendly forms for those who pass them every day, see them out their windows. The sculptures will become rooted, ingrained; local residences like the tolling of the church bells. Maybe then will the end be near as history oxidizes memory as it rusts away.

Good-byes were tearful and those tears came early. Students who came for the unveiling shed them before it was over. I choked down the lump in my throat as I fumbled through my speech. That same lump welled again as I ate my last cheese pie in the kitchen I now can call home. Hugs were the gift of the day and many were exchanged. But there were many other very special gifts that passed hands before it was time to go. New friends and family were made and are now kept close through bonds that cannot be spoken. There was not a dry eye in the house as we left through the front gate one last time with a bag of food full of love to swell the heart and fatten the belly. But under those tears were smiles and bright rosy cheeks and I had an extra little upturned curl at the end of my lips with one last parting image of that little cock sent flying by my boot as he went for one last shot at the title.


These are sketches of the people. And for the people.
Sentinels of the past and beacons of the future.
They are organic and ephemeral. But like you, they are rooted and very strong.

These 4 figures are a gift from Brevard, North Carolina in the United States to its sister-city of Pietroasa. I hope they will give you inspiration each day, remind you of your friends in Brevard and help you to remember the tall strange American who came to live with you for 2 months.

Thank you to the people of this town and surrounding towns for making me feel so welcome and allowing me access to create this sculptures. I appreciate you very much. And to my friends at the school - the wonderful kids who lifted my spirits and reminded me to be a kid while I was working each day.

And to my host family - my Romanian mama and papa. For you I am so grateful. I am your son, half Romanian and will keep you in my heart forever.

I invite everyone to spend time with these figures and walk among them so that you may create your own relationship with each one and the group as a whole. I hope the sculptures grow on everyone and hold a special place in everyone's heart as the people and this place hold a special place in my heart.

Thank you all for this time I will never forget. Keep being the strong, wonderful people you are.

(Val wrote the speech with a few of my ideas and took the majority of the photos, too)

Friday, March 25, 2011


The river has calmed and its waters have cleared. Daffodils bloom in a garden I pass on my way home from the studio. I am done. The last big push is over, four figures stand tall and whole in the studio. Time to pack up and sweep the floor.

The final day was epic as it should be. After getting a fresh tank of acetylene I run out of oxygen. The welder, which has never over heated, begins to over heat at regular intervals and then…… I run out of steel. While waiting for the welder to cool down I ended up pre-bending steel by hand and dismantling a sculpture that didn't make the final cut for scrap steel; an organ donor if you will. Smaller lengths of steel had to be welded together and joints sanded to create lengths long enough to fill the gaps. One span of time waiting for the welder to cool was spent playing tag with one of the students; we kicked around a soccer ball, too, which led to a climb down into a storm drain to retrieve it.

While working on the final sculpture my pace quickened as euphoria would sweep over me, but then I would find myself slowing down, not wanting to finish, savoring the moment. While thoughts of home and my love were ever present so were these sculptures. When I arrived here last month all my time and energy has been put towards this work. Six days a week I'd toil, one day of rest for the body but not the mind. What will I do, what will become of this place when there is no more work to be had in the studio?

2,650ft of steel
Over 22lbs of electrodes
72 cut-off wheels
2 pairs of gloves
Countless apples, bananas and chocolate bars
And yes, one rooster was harmed in the making.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hands Twisting

My time is almost up and as it is always the case it is passing by with a blur. But as I walk home every day in a studio haze I now have memories of this place. I walk by the same row of houses that on a cold snowy night a month ago they were only vague shadows against the night white sky, each with a single colorful window a glow; red blue and orange. I am familiar enough with the friendly faces that I can recognize people by the way the walk, knowing who they are even before they smile and come into view. I've even picked up the mannerisms of one kind soul I pass daily. We exchange greetings, sometimes a simple wave, other days it is a hand shake and he stands, head down, lips moving with no sound, hands twisting. I now find myself having my own private conversations, head down, hands twisting chatting away without a sound.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Counting Down

A lazy Sunday. No work to be had, I sat outside in the warmth of the shallow arched sun, the puppy curled up at my feet, fast asleep. A familiar wind blows, purposeful with its secret agenda. The signs of winter still hold fast; snow grips the high vistas and northern most slopes, trees still hide their buds. The river flows on carrying the Winter's fall off to the West. Eleven days remain until my work is to be finished.

Days are checked off and the river runs fast and furious with snow melt; dry banks now wet, water turbulent. I know how it feels.