Sculpture, sun, celebration, success

Sep. 08, 2013 @ 06:51 AM

The T.H. Broyhill Walking Park in Lenoir transformed Saturday into a massive outdoor sculpture gallery as the 28th annual Sculpture Celebration featured 55 sculptors displaying their work around the sidewalks, streams and pond.

The Caldwell Arts Council and Tri-State Sculptors presented the event. Lee Carol Giduz, executive director of the arts council, said that last year a rough count of spectators totaled 2,500, but this year was way above that.

Sculptors from around the region and as far away as Vermont entered work in the show, and some erected their sculptures in the middle of the stream or on the banks of the pond.

From pocket-sized sculptures to some 30 feet high, a variety of styles was represented, from traditional sculptures of figures and animals to gates and benches and abstract moving sculptures.

Judging the show was Craig Pleasants, artistic director at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and after the winners were announced, he led a walking tour, speaking to sculptors and explaining his choices.

Six Merit Awards, $500 each, one People’s Choice Award, $500, as well as $2,500 for first place, $2,000 for second place, $1,500 for third and $1,000 for fourth, were given out, totaling $10,500 in awards.

Mary Ann Prack’s sculpture “Standing Still” won first place, an abstract, painted figure that Pleasants described as, “really beautiful and totally professional,” and “a beautifully proportioned, gorgeous piece.”

Prack, from Jefferson, said “Standing Still” was figure-based, reminiscent of most of her other work, made of clay and featuring contrasting dark, light and bright colors. The piece was hand-built and kiln-fired, glazed and re-fired, taking about six weeks to complete, described by Prack as “sensuous.”

“Limestone Bench” won second place. It's a hand-hewn rectangular slab of limestone that sculptor Todd Frahm worked in a spiraling design to make the rectangle of rock seem to have twisted.

“I tried to create the illusion of plasticity,” Frahm said, to make it appear that the material behaved in a way it actually doesn’t. Pleasants said he was looking for a good use of the elemental form in this competition, and that “Limestone Bench” was the most successful in that area.

Third place went to Keith Willis of Lenoir for his sculpture "Burden," featuring panels bound together to form a large square wall, with a seeming doorway in the bottom that featured dozens of white crosses growing larger as they made their way from behind the opening out toward the spectator.

“I like how rough it is,” Pleasants said, noting that Willis did not alter or refinish the panels, which were made of a thin metal, bound together with wire, featuring an ornate design.

Pleasants said the work was reminiscent of a lot of contemporary work, and called the piece “mysterious,” saying the white crosses reminded him of grave markers.

Taking fourth place was David Francisco of Morganton, for his piece "Zella," an abstract sculpture that Pleasants said “somehow feels ancient,” reminding him of a tool, a torso and a figure all at once.

Francisco used wood putty to create the texture on the outside of the piece, another unusual tactic, which Pleasants called “wonderful,” prompting him to describe the entire piece as “dynamite.”

Theresa Sizemore won the People’s Choice Award with her piece “Dragon,” a fully constructed dragon, built with hundreds of hand-cut steel pieces laid over each other like scales, and two large wings above the back.

Pleasants said “Dragon” was “very fluid, beautifully done and well crafted,” saying it was “amazing” that Sizemore cut all the steel scales by hand.

Merit awards were presented to Joel Urruty for “Swan Lady,” Nathaniel Miller for “Rural Delivery,” Jeff Menzer for “Conversation,” Beverly Babb for “Woodgrain Chair,” Ann Hamlin for “Stationary Flight-Orange,” and Raymond Giddens for “Medusa.”