Last Thursday 50 or so people gathered to watch the “unveiling” of my sculpture “The Great Blue Heron”. It was a really nice event. The weather was beautiful, the sun was out, we were sheltered from the wind, and the heron sparkled. There were (brief) speeches by Ken Skrzesz, The Executive Director of Maryland State Arts Council, Jack Redmond, Friends of Piney Run Park, Liesel Fenner, Director of Public Art for MSAC, Jeff Diegitz, Director of Carroll County Recreation and Parks and Sandy Oxx, Director of the Carroll County Arts Council.
Oh, yeah, then it was my turn!
Here’s a shortened version of what I said…the longer version is not available as a lot of it was ad-libbed in front of the crowd of 50 or so people.
- Many thanks to Ken Skrzesz, Liesel Fenner and the staff at Maryland State Arts Council for all the work they do to promote the arts in MD. As an artist, I have a unique understanding of how hard their job is and it does not go unappreciated.
- Thanks to Jeff Diegitz for wanting art in the county parks and being open to all of my suggestions. And thanks to the Friends for helping fund this project.
- Thanks to Brad Roger, Wade Blank and the maintenance staff for risking life and limb (literally) to create an amazing place for the heron to perch.
- Thanks to the Carroll County Arts Council for being a major partner on this collaboration and…
- I’ll get to Sandy and Susan in a minute…
It’s not very often an artist gets to do a project like this. To be asked to create a sculpture for one of the local parks was a wonderful gift. Creating by committee can be hazardous to an artist’s health. Fortunately, this committee was all on the same page. Sandy, Susan, Jeff and I talked about a couple of options for sculptures and settled on the great blue heron. Then we walked around and picked this fabulous location. Knowing that I wanted the sculpture to look as if it was part of the landscape, Brad and I worked out how it would be installed in the lake.
Then I got to work. For the next couple of months I researched herons, studied hundreds of photos and took a few myself at Blackwater Refuge. I drew a couple of life-sized sketches of the bird that would become my guide while I created the sculpture. Throughout the rest of the year I built the armature then slowly started adding feathers. Working closely with Brad and Wade, I developed the base to fit onto the pilings that were dug in to the lake. Slowly the bird started to come to life. The hardest part of this whole project was making the heron stable. I honestly don’t know why herons don’t break their legs more often. After a trial run (right before the huge windstorm) I brought the heron back to the studio and added a few stabilizing rods.
This was a labor of love from beginning to end. The freedom to create what I wanted and to know that it was going to be installed just down the road from my house made this a very special project. I can’t wait for the park staff to use this sculpture as a learning tool.
So now I come to Sandy and Susan. Your commitment to making Carrol County an arts destination is inspiring. The way you champion local artists is breathtaking. And your commitment and trust in me as an artist, well, it kinda leaves me speechless. Thank you.
I did mention at the end that I don’t often name my sculptures, I title them. But when this one was in the truck on its way to the park, I said “Elvis has left the building”.
Okay, okay…here are some photos…taken by my friend Mike Washington…