Wednesday, February 01, 2012


The Sculpture Post

The Boston Art Commission has narrowed down to three finalists the possible designs for a Memorial to the noted American author Edgar Allan Poe. I suspect Poe is thought of much more in relation to Baltimore, but he was born in Boston and had an unfortunately rocky start in life there. As the years passed he had little regard for the city, and Boston felt the same about him. But just as John Steinbeck and Jack Kerouac were eventually embraced by their home towns (once they became really famous writers, cynics might say) Boston is now proposing to reclaim Poe on highly visible ground near the Common and Public Gardens.

The three finalists are all women, and two of them have collaborators in realizing their designs. The work of all three is being shown at the Boston Public Library; will public reaction be a major, or even THE major component in deciding which artist gets her creation chosen?

Los Angeles artist Jennifer Bonner has the most high concept entry. From some of the information on her site, it would seem that the transparent walls of her construction will act as projection surfaces, possibly triggered by the approach of visitors. If I'm correct, the ephemeral projections could be a reference to the hallucinatory nature of some of Poe's work.

This sculpture by Anne Hirsch of Cambridge, just across the Charles River from Boston, is placed on what strikes me an a poorly designed plinth. The figures seem to me to have some real power and darkness about them but the base strikes me as bland, dominant in the wrong way, and unrelated to what it supports.

Blogger Mike Mennonno pointed out a possibly problematic resemblance between the female figure's pose and draped face, and the infamous photograph of the torture victim at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. He felt it might sink Ms Hirsch's chances of having her work chosen as the winner.  I hadn't caught that association but can easily see how others could.   I see her more as an Angel of Death figure.

The most dynamic of the three finalist works is by Stephanie Rocknak of Oneonta, NY.  I can imagine this one being the public favorite. Poe appears to be fleeing while his valise explodes, scattering its contents and releasing the raven from his most famous work. Too obvious? I see panic, fear and menace in this work which may be just right.

Your thoughts?


Emergency Exit, sculpture by Chen Wenling

This piece raises SO many questions about construction and support techniques! And is that really just a monumental fart that has shot the bull onward and upward?


The following popped up on a couple of Facebook pages today and several of the resulting comments took it to be real.  The fact is that there is no Whitson University in the US, and while College Hill is a college neighborhood in Worcester, MA, the zip code is for Naples Florida. 

As someone who's experienced the frustrations of the process of job application to institutes of higher education, from both the applicant's and the search committee member's point of view, I found this satirical piece a delightful and poignant comment.

I liked the third one, very Poe I thought. There is a Poe house in Richmond VA too - everyone wants a piece of him. It's a small house, and in the attic room on the second floor there is a display of the Rackham (I'm pretty sure that's who did them) drawings from the first edition of The Raven.

I loved the letter too. I have been getting so many calls from
"unknown caller" lately, that I'm tempted to answer saying "This is an unknown answerer" and then add something - but you have to be in the right mood to pull it off.
I vote for #3... the best for a very public placing.

Portland has the same sort of connection with Mark Rothko.
Of the three choices, I prefer #3. The others just seem to... obscure.

And as for the farting bull, that made me laugh because that's exactly what I thought it was doing.
Oh I look third one as well.
I would love to see #1 realized, but it lacks a real nexus with Poe.

I actually like #2, but without the Egyptian plinth.

I had hoped to see a raven in one of them so was iitally glad whe I saw #3, but the more I lokked at it the less i liked the overall style.

How about #2 (no plinth) standing inside #1 with a miniature raven perched on top?
No heliocopter crash sculptures, please.
Not sure I "get" the first design and I agree with you about the base of the second design. The third is of interest to me but I hope the final execution would be more stylish/dramatic (and less pigeon-toed, as well)!

I love that monumental(ly) farting bull!!!
i love all three designs, everyone has different concepts and different story. designs of all three are very fabulous and unique.
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