The Colossal Other Side of Eden
It’s said a picture is worth a thousand words. The slide show gives just a small taste of all that has been involved in assembling and finishing the colossal Other Side of Eden.
This is the first work which appeared as that flash in my minds’ eye. It happened nearly four decades ago when I was sketching a dancer doing his grand jetes diagonally across the the studio. He crashed into the wall on the last one but I saw him go through the wall, or rather I saw this sculpture, complete and at this monumental size.
The work on this commission started in the autumn of 2014. My friend Glenn Campbell in West Rutland helped build the massive armature onto which the clay was modeled. That was transported down to my studio in two halves and assembled. The clay model was completed in the spring of 2015.
Then the rubber molds were made on the piece. Sectioned off into 54 separate parts by shims, several coats of rubber were applied with plaster back up molds. That process took 3 months.
Wax was then painted into the molds and those wax castings were gated and vented. Some of the wax castings needed to be cut into smaller sections as they became to heavy for me to lift in the ceramic shell room. I had installed hoists to lift the shells in and out of the slurry tank but by the sixth coat I could see that I would have trouble handling the ceramic shell molds. So in all there were 86 ceramic shell molds that were made.
Those molds were then dewaxed in the oven and then bronze was poured into them. This stage took five months. The shell molds would be removed the gates and vents cut off and then chased down. the sections that had been cut into smaller pieces were welded together and the surface chased to the original form.
The bronze sections then were assembled by welding both on the outside and inside. Those welds were then chased and finished. This stage though not quite complete has taken eight months of demanding concentration.
I expect that the work will be (hopefully) completed in a month. It has been hard to gauge the amount of time, it seems every step takes more time. The work will need to be lowered and the final top sections put on, then rolled out the doors and the last leg section welded on outside. The whole work must be sandblasted lightly to clean the surface before the patina is applied.
Once finished it will be transported to its home in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the garden of Eden of Tom and Mary Steffek Blaske.
Two new commissions!
Everyone asks “what’s next?” for Andrew after he completes the colossal Other Side of Eden, and now we can tell you! Two new commissions have come about in the past two months…
The first commission is for a larger version of Echoes, a work that never fails to capture everyone’s attention in the gallery. It has been commissioned at three-quarters life size by our enthusiastic and avid collector Richard Chorney. Richard is the visionary president of the Grove School in Madison CT. He first purchased the five foot Other Side of Eden for his school’s campus in 2012. Since that time he has also acquired one of the remaining sculptures in the edition of This Man Who Flies and Innocence.
Echoes was first conceived in Chicago. It came to Andrew as a vision in the morning after a day of sketching the Joffrey Ballet in class and rehearsal. Although inspired by dance the sculpture displays a sense of spiritual uplifting by suspending the figure on a Möbius strip.
The maquette (working model) for this new Echoes has now been cast in bronze and the pantograph will soon be put to use in pointing up the enlargement. The Möbius strip that suspends this figure will be over seven feet tall!
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Commission
The second commission is for the Byham Dance Center in Pittsburgh, the home of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Some of you will remember the article from last year when Andrew installed Nocturne there. The goal has always been to have a new work which will epitomize the company’s vision of the ballet.
In May, Artistic Director Terrence Orr of PBT and Marianna Tcherkassy (Ballet Mistress of PBT and Terry’s wife) traveled to the studio along with Hannah Carter, a principle dancer from the company. Hannah modeled for the anatomical drawings which will be used in creating the sculpture (it will also be a three-quarter life size). The maquette armature is in process as of this writing, and once the maquette is completed and cast in bronze the pantograph will again be employed to point up the enlargement.
Aurora and Hallelujah dance pastels for 2017
Two new pastels, Aurora (top) and Hallelujah (bottom) created from sketches in dance studios are on their way to to Museum Facsimiles for framing.
The fire at River Studio on November 23rd, 2016
Gifts, Grants and GoFundme
These 3 “G”s represent the generosity of so many patrons, friends, family and the community at large who have joined together in the efforts to raise a new River Studio out of the ashes from the tragic fire that destroyed Andrew’s casting studio. To date a total of 85% of the estimated construction costs have been collected. A giant leap forward was made through the efforts of the Lenox Chamber of Commerce benefit that took place on March 3rd at Ventfort Hall. Envelopes containing checks in every amount continue to arrive in the mail as well as the contributions online through the GoFundMe Rebuild River Studio campaign.
We are grateful for each gift we receive. You have all touched our hearts and that kindness fills us with inspiration and the courage to forge ahead! says Andrew.
Measurements and sketches have been given to our friend Bill Kelly of Meadowwoods Pedestals who will draw up the plans needed for the permitting process. Once spring finally arrives in the Berkshires and warmer temperatures prevail, cleanup of the site will begin. The goal is to have the shell of the building up by next winter so that interior work can be done during the colder months and casting can begin again by spring of 2018.