Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"The Thinker" Revisited

“The Thinker Revisited” July 6, 2010
by Ralph Trethewey

Outdoor bronzes age, telling a story of their place in time. After nine years I revisited “The Thinker,” my bronze sculpture of a contemplative frog sitting on mushrooms, modeled after Rodin’s famous “Thinker”. Sculpted and installed in 2001 in downtown Walla Walla, it joins a collection of public outdoor sculptures gracing this artsy city.

I looked for polished bare metal surfaces, the tell-tale sign of handling and interaction. Sure enough, like small gold nuggets in a pan, these worn spots gleamed and rewarded me to know that this piece has been touched, caressed and enjoyed. The lips revealed a glossy sheen, no bare metal yet; but I know they have been kissed. The ground around the stone base is copressed and worn, evidence of adults and children getting up close to this work of art.

It is good when one’s artistic efforts gain rewards beyond just getting paid, like the heart-warming knowledge that people really enjoy and like your work. Many have commented that this is their or their children’s favorite sculpture in Walla Walla. That makes my day! We chose the stone he sits on with it’s smooth face so children could climb up and touch the toes.

“The Thinker” was not alone this afternoon. The “Hot Dog Man” was nearby - steam
and spicy aromas wafting from his heated cart. Big Jerry offers Polish and German
Sausages, drinks and chips, a Chili Dog and the regular Hot Dog with condiments. He
gives you a punch card on your first purchase and when punched ten times you get a Hot Dog free. Too bad I’m a vegetarian. Jerry quickly assured me he is looking into a vegan/vegetarian alternative for folks like me. I’ll have to go back and try one soon!

Having not yet seen the sculpture, some ask where its located. I reply “on the corner of 3rd and Main.” Getting that “no comprehension” look, I prompt them with, “by Baker Boyer Bank.” Their mind’s eye scans the city and they then ask, “Oh is that by the Hot Dog Man?” I answer heartily with a “you got it” yes!!

I note the smile crossing their face as they image this fair corner of the city with
it’s lively fountain. The spraying water and nearby tables and chairs provided by the city invite one to stop, reflect and relax.

“The Thinker” is one of a limited number of castings in an edition of only 36.
To date four have been sold and taken to locales I know not of. I kind of wonder
where they are, like children moved out: Are they happy in their new environs? Do they have a pond, stream, fountain, or maybe a pedestal inside the house? I bet they don’t have a Hot Dog Man like Jerry for a neighbor.

Sounds like I am a sentimental sap. The truth is I’m playing on your sympathies to sell one. I have the 18” size and the smaller version almost 7” high. The miniature version sold out a long time ago. Promise me you will make a nice home for one, and I’ll give you a really sweet deal. I won’t undersell my galleries however.

Support the arts wherever you live, and help a budding entrepreneur. Buy a hot dog from Jerry, with chips, soda and condiments.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Whooping Crane Sculpture - Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas 2010

The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Visitor's Center, currently being remodeled, will feature a life-size realistic sculpture of the endangered whooping crane by Artist/Sculptor Ralph Trethewey. At four and one-half feet tall, the bird will be displayed where children can stand nearby and size up their stature next to America's tallest bird.
Completed May 28, 2010, the bird is cast in polymer and hand-painted by Trethewey . This latest commission joins other birds for National Wildlife Refuges in the Continental U.S., Guam and Hawaii. Species he has carved or sculpted include the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, bittern, caspian tern, Hawaiian honeycreepers and the greater yellowlegs.
The whooping crane summers in Northern Canada and winters in the Aransas Refuge in South Texas. We humans with steady jobs, (if wer'e lucky enough to have one), and a permanant street address, can only dream of migrating to more favorable weather until we retire. Not so the whooping crane-- and they don't even have to come up with air-fare!
Whooping cranes are North America's member of the "Birds of Heaven," as the world family of cranes is sometime called. Elegant and almost entirely white, they are the images of dreams. Once near extinction, the population in North America is now about 400. Of these the largest flock of over 260 birds winters at the Aransas Refuge.