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Shopworks: Jacob wrestling the Angel

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Shopworks: Jacob wrestling the Angel

This work is “in process”–again. Because over the years, I have attempted to render this story in sculpture three times. The story comes from the book of Genesis, and tells how Jacob, on his way to see his brother Esau, “passed over the ford, Jabbok,” and there, “wrestled a man  . . . until the breaking of the day.” In their contest, the man “touched the hollow of [Jacob’s] thigh,” putting it out of joint, but still he continued to wrestle. Finally, the man said, “let me go,...

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Memorial for Enslaved Laborers at The University of Virginia

Posted by on Mar 1, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Memorial for Enslaved Laborers at The University of Virginia

This past Monday evening, February 27th, 2017, I attended a Public Forum at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, in Charlottesville, VA, for the proposed “Memorial for Enslaved Laborers at The University of Virginia.” I am keenly interested in this project, because–because I think I have some good ideas for it!  And these ideas go back a ways, back to 2004, when I began work on a portrait bust of Thomas Jefferson. After reading Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History, by Fawn Brodie, I knew that I would...

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Abstract Painting Workshop, Day 3

Posted by on Feb 26, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Abstract Painting Workshop, Day 3

On this third and final day of the Abstract Painting Workshop, Rita Montrose led us through an exercise in developing an abstract painting using repetition and variation of shapes; or rather, the task was to use just one shape, in various sizes, repeated, altered, or otherwise experimented with. She again began with a demo, and after a bit, I began sketching rectangles, in an overlapping pattern; shortly, this pattern developed an “infrastructure” kind of look for me: structures, reminiscent for of sculpture armatures, linked...

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Abstract Painting Workshop, Day 2

Posted by on Feb 25, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Abstract Painting Workshop, Day 2

On a day which began with spitting rain and ended with intermittent sunshine and chilly winds, this 2nd day of the Abstract Painting Workshop, Ms. Montrose guided us through our second abstract painting, based upon either a realistic photograph or sketch. She began again with a demo, a watercolor in red, green, and yellow, taken from a sketch taken from a photo of staked-up tomato plants. “You can break one of the rules,” she said, with a laugh, “but not all of them.” She demonstrated various techniques, using tape, a...

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Abstract Painting Workshop, Day 1

Posted by on Feb 24, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Abstract Painting Workshop, Day 1

On this unseasonably  warm and beautiful February Friday the 24th, Ann and I began our participation in the three-day BRAA Abstract Painting Workshop, taught by Rita Montrose, at the delightful Peggy Lee Hahn Garden Pavilion, on the Virginia Tech campus. Though I have done a good bit of sculpture painting–of 3D works and relief panels–with acrylics, over the years, and have done a few abstract sculptures (in both metal and wood, some of which were painted), I have never actually tried a 2D painting on canvas, or on any other...

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Actors to Forces

Posted by on Feb 18, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Actors to Forces

Can I shift from “Actors” to “Forces?” Can I when sculpting move my frame of reference from attention to persons, unique individuals, “the figure,” in all its particularity and detail, to those Forces which move us, within and without, against which we struggle, are caught up into, which carry us in their stream, to other purposes than our own? How would I do this? Abstraction? But if so, do I lose focus? Do I forgo the expressive hand, the shapely form, the memorable features, the wild...

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Frederick Douglass, Mighty Orator

Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 in Blog, Busts, Historical | Comments Off on Frederick Douglass, Mighty Orator

Before James Baldwin, there was Frederick Douglass: “The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad: it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of...

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Dedication II: Paul M. Bechtel

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Dedication II: Paul M. Bechtel

My dad, Paul M. Bechtel, was an idealist; no, that is too rigid a designation. He was warmly inspired by the ideals he found in the works of great poets, especially in the works of the English Romantics, John Keats in particular. Thus inspired, he went to Juniata College to study literature, eschewing his father’s career in business/finance, and in time became a Professor at Wheaton College, “For Christ and His Kingdom.” He taught “The Great Books,” and 20th century European Literature; though he was a devout...

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Dedication: Mary K. Bechtel

Posted by on Feb 12, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Dedication: Mary K. Bechtel

Recently (February 8th, 2017), I gave a talk for the Virginia Tech Faculty Women’s Club, entitled “Mother of Creativity,” which began with an homage to my mother, Mary K. Bechtel, who encouraged her children to be creative. I remember the sound of her voice, and the warmth of her praise when I exhibited some evidence of “creativity.” She was a librarian at Hawthorne Elementary School, in Wheaton, Illinois, and seeded my imagination with books: The Little Engine That Could, Blueberries for Sal, Horton Hears a...

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Original Stories Available on Audio CD

Posted by on Feb 10, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Original Stories Available on Audio CD

Original Stories Available on Audio CD

Complementing sculpture, for me, is storytelling. Whereas sculpture is concentration and compression, storytelling is multiplicity and expansion. Where sculpture is wordless absorption in the process of creating and manipulating physical form; storytelling is the word-filled experience of talking into life a long scroll of characters and contexts. Sculpture needs a studio, tools, and materials; it is heavy with the implements of craft. Storytelling takes the world for its studio, and needs no tools but observation and imagination. Sculpture...

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