Tale of Titles
As of late 2009, there are over fifty large scale sculptures in granite and granite combined with copper, cast bronze, stainless steel and weathering steel in the sculpture garden of the Huntington Sculpture Foundation, accessible to the public 365 days a year. All sculptures have titles, even though there are no title plaques beside the individual sculptures.
There are various stories behind the titles of my sculptures. I have always loved words and sometimes a title will be a play on words, among other things.
Sometimes they come from events that occur close to or during the time I am working on a sculpture.
During and just after 911, I was working on “Let’s Roll”, a commissioned sculpture for Kansai Gaidai International University in Osaka. I was deeply affected and impressed by the incredible heroism of so many people that day. The words that stuck in my mind were the memorable last words of Todd Beamer on ill fated United flight 93, when he uttered, “Let’s roll” as he and fellow passengers went on their death mission to thwart the terrorists. I wanted to commemorate the valiant and courageous act personified by all those who gave so much that day, including their lives.
“Kamogawa Crossing” refers to the Kamogawa River that runs through Kyoto and commemorates the glorious week I spent there in Feb ’02, while installing the sculpture in Osaka.
Some sculptures are dedicated to persons I admire, such as “Wedgie”, dedicated to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the beautiful and incredibly brave Muslim woman who stood up against the radical Islamist butchers who killed her colleague and put a fatwah on her. “Wedgie” also refers to the prank practice of adolescents, yanking up someone’s underwear to give them a “wedgie”. Hirsi Ali gave the murderous terrorist thugs a royal wedgie. The title also reinforces the overall shape of the stone, which is a wedge.
Willem DeKooning, the Dutch American painter, was one of my early heroes. I always liked the title of one of his paintings called “Door to the River”. So the sculpture is dedicated to the artist and is a play on his title. It also describes the sculpture in part because there is a door like opening into the sculpture.
“Curtain for Miles” is dedicated to Miles Davis, a musician I have admired since I was a teen-ager and whose music can still bring tears to my eyes after all these years.
“Hiromi Mon Amor” is dedicated to a very young but incredibly talented and beautiful piano player named Hiromi Uehara, whose music can also move me to tears. The title is also a play on the classic movie of the 60s “Hiroshima Mon Amor”
“Ringing in My Eyes” is dedicated to my lifelong friend from my hometown and the first artist I ever met, Ronn Johnson. Ronn died in 2003 at age 66 from melanoma. The sculpture is also a play on words and is a description of the fact that the granite has 6 cylindrical holes bored through it and the stainless steel that embraces it has 6 much smaller corresponding holes cut through it.
A recent piece is titled “Blind Seven” or “Blind 7” and came about when my neighbor, his son and wife were building two deer blinds which had openings in them in a shape not unlike the opening in one of the two stones of the sculpture. The openings in the two different color granites combined to make a “7” which is only a subtext and not an intentional comment or content. Incidentally, it is the number of the race car Danica Patrick drives in the IRL series. I have a typical old guy’s crush on the darling young raven-haired spitfire, so it is dedicated to her.
Adding to the “strong women” series is “Crack Back Remix for Sarah Palin”, another powerful woman, I have great admiration for. She is not unlike my own grandmother who had a passel of common sense and wisdom, that seems utterly lacking in today’s Ivy League educated academic and lawyerly drones, that have seemed to usurp politics, much to the detriment of the constitution, our founding principles and personal liberty.
Some titles are an echo of the physical nature of a specific piece: “Loafy”, which resembles a slice off a loaf of bread. It struck me as a whimsical title and piece.
“High “Open” refers to the opening in the sculpture which is literally a high opening.
“Split Ascending” is based on the natural split in a stone, which was broken in two when I discovered it in the quarry and I knew that I wanted to utilize that natural break in thegranite. I combined it with copper and the play between the copper and stone is heightened by the split. I chose ascending rather than descending in the title, seeing it as the positive of opposites.
“Winter Veil” was the first of two “veils”. They are both sculptures combining stainless that has slots cut in the steel, combined with stone. The steel acts and a physical and metaphysical veil for the stone and follows its purpose of adding visual/emotional mystery to the sculptures, especially as the sun moves through the sky and “paints” ever changing textural shadows across the stones.
The second veil is “Pass Veil” and that title is also a play on words.
Some titles refer to states of mind and emotions, such as “Dwellings and Transit”, which was done during a period when I was dreaming nightly about buildings I had lived in and means of transportation, like trucks, planes and the subway. The dreams were upsetting and disconcerting because I was always trying to “find my way” and was getting lost and when I did find a dwelling, it was altered in some dispossessing way. This series of dreams continues to this day.
One of the most emotional titles of a sculpture is “Cap the Well of Memory”, referring to the loss of love and the struggle to rid myself of her aura. It was done during the Desert Storm campaign and I had the image of the burning oil wells in my mind and saw it as the enflamed emotions spurting to the surface and I wanted in the worst way to cap or extinguish the anguish.
“Kissy Face” refers to the two stones that comprise this sculpture being flush, face to face.
“Zatoichi Sky” a granite and cast bronze sculpture through which you can see the sky because there is a slot in both the stone and the bronze that line up. I was viewing the sculpture in its final stages, before I patined the bronze and the sky reminded me of the wonderful skies in the Japanese movie series “Zatoichi, The Blind Swordsman”
One of my most recent titles include the 2009 granite sculpture, comprised of two different color granites entitled ”Shall Not Be Infringed”, intended to revivify one of the bed rock values of our nation, the 2nd Amendment, which sadly is under attack by a plethora of people.