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Home · Articles · News · Letters · Letters 3/10/08
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Letters 3/10/08

- March 10th, 2008
In defense of sculpture
I am amazed that a person who enjoys and profits from the process of creative open communication, would attempt to attack the entire field of creative communication that you call “modern sculpture“ (Random Thoughts 2/25).
First of all, I agree with your general views on the faulty process that has been used in an attempt to place this particular piece of art in the Open Space. You have however made a couple of errors. It is my understanding that the $800,000 was an amount that included much more than the original price of the sculpture. Secondly, the advertisement on the Internet listed in 2006, estimates the value of the piece is as low as $50,000. The price is listed as “Make an Offer.”
Apparently nobody made an offer. It would seem that the sculpture has no monetary value. Apparently a decision was made to give it away.
As to your reflections on “modern sculpture,” according to your wording, I would assume that you mean non-representational, or non-objective sculpture. I am of course a sculptor. I have several large outdoor sculptures on display in several regional cities. Most people would say my sculptures look like machine parts. Some people are amazed with my work. Some people have compared it to “ugly junk.” Although I have a price on my sculptures that are reflective of the cost of materials, the hours of labor, and the 40% to 50% that galleries have to charge to cover their expenses, most of my work is worth absolutely nothing, as no one makes monetary offers for it.
Some of my best discussions about my work have been with individuals that are not impressed with “modern sculpture.” I generally ask, what kind of music do you enjoy? Do you enjoy instrumentals? In the discussion that follows, we usually agree that instrumental music is something that is appreciated. But instrumentals are a completely abstract form of communication. Sound patterns with varying pitch, meter and intensity.
If we can appreciate the abstract arrangement of sound, why do we not accept the abstract arrangement of form? We seem to have a need to link sculpture with representational images. Oh! That is what we do with music; an instrumental conjures up images in our minds of memories of our experiences.
As the discussion continues, I can generally have the person generate a narrative of what they think my sculpture is, and how those thoughts relate to their past. I always answer the same way. Yes, you are right. That is exactly what my sculpture represents. It is amazing that you understand what was in my mind. We part after sharing experiences from our past as ignited by observing the sculpture that they thought was valueless.
Of course, if I have the same discussion with 10 different individuals, I usually come up with 10 different scenerios. All are right as they relate to the person observing the sculpture. Many leave thinking that it is all a lot of nonsense. However, each person will have the image of my sculpture, and what it means to them, forever engraved in their mind.
The world would be a very boring place if everyone thought and saw things the same way. “Modern sculpture” allows each viewer to put something of themselvs in the art work that they are observing. Good or bad, it evokes a creative and unique response.
I think that your article may be misguided. It however, caused me to take the time to write this response. I would assume that my response might generate other responses. Just imagine a world of people thinking for themselves. People discussing what is important to them. It seems that we are both in the same business. You accomplish it with the written word. I do it with “modern sculpture.”
By the way, it seems that you give your product away at no charge. Apparently we share something else. Like this sculpture by John Piet, our work seems to have no monetary value.

Doug Gruizenga • Interlochen

The value of abstraction
After my first year at Northwestern Medical School in 1966, fresh from the meticulous dissection of a cadaver, I flew to England to see as much of Henry Moore‘s work as possible.
You remember he based many of his beautiful reclining figures on those of people hiding in subways during the bombing of London.
Then it was on to see the “David“ in Florence. A few years later I returned with a set of stone carving tools to Pietrasanta on the Italian coast where Michelangelo found his carrara marble, hoping to apprentice to a stone carver.
While in school in Chicago, I watched the Picasso sculpture go up. There was enormous excitement. Was it a bird cage? Or is it the head of a woman with the changing shadows creating patterns of flowing hair?
I grew up in Grand Rapids and was there when the Calder went up. Did you know that Calder‘s stabiles and mobiles are based on his wonderful circus figures on display at the Whitney Musuem in New York? Did you know that the modern movement in furniture design began in conservative Zeeland, Michigan, where designers like Eames drew on modernism to simplify those busy Victorian forms for Herman Miller? Think of the jobs created by modernism.
In the last 50 years there have been perhaps 20 movements in the history of art, all of which seem to have escaped the attention of Mr. Downes.
Literal depiction of the human form is not the only way to put a face on what it means to be human. Adding canoe shoulders to (my sculpture) the “River Guardian,“ for example, is an attempt to understand “portage“ in our human experience.
We need layers of meaning. We need the abstraction of Picasso and the humor of Calder here in Traverse City.

Dewey Blocksma, sculptor
Saying goodbye
I am writing to thank the supporters of Craig Carlson. I was a co-worker of his and knew him for about four years. I worked on a few of his job sites and he was a fun-loving man, and a blast to work with.
During the time of his issues, I was having a hard time in my life too, and we spent a lot of time talking over the phone. Craig called me the day before he was shot and said, “I was just calling to say good bye. You are a wonderful person, and I will be watching over you.”
I called my Dad (his prior boss) and informed him of the phone calls. I would say to Craig, “What are you talking about? Do you want to talk?” He would say, “No, just wanted to say goodbye.”
I lost a great friend that day, and a lot of us haven’t had the chance to have any closure. I came back to work, and had to see his name everywhere. I would read the paper or watch the news, and all I heard about was Craig. I don’t how much longer this will go on, but all I know is Craig was struggling with mental health issues and needed help.
I want to let his family know that I’m thinking of them. Thank you, Northern Express, for letting the public have a voice, and hopefully this will help me have some closure.

Amber Walton • TC

Burned by box store
I would like to share a local business experience with your readers: Beware of the Vista Home program authored by Microsoft.
I purchased a new Hewlett-Packard computer this past December from Best Buy. The second day of ownership, I had to return it to have them reprogram it as it had dropped its hard drive. Next, it lost its audio, then its desktop. A few weeks later it dropped its DVD drive.
Finally, it dropped the drivers to both my Hewlett-Packard scanners.
I returned to Best Buy with the computer tower for the fourth drop-off and did not want to be tortured any longer with a defective program. I wanted to return the tower and start over. Although I had been returning the tower since day two, I was told I was outside the 14-day return policy.
The bottom line is Vista is not compatible with any of my components I have purchased from Best Buy, including two digital cameras, three printers, one Bamboo tablet, one iPod and countless photo programs. Microsoft apparently thinks you need to replace all of your components when switching to Vista Home.
When I purchased the new computer tower, Best Buy was aware of my software and driver needs. They sold it anyway.
Best Buy has no problem losing my business, as I am only one consumer. I urge anyone who is considering a new computer to steer clear of the box shop. I wouldn‘t want anyone else to endure the lost cost of the malfunctioning Vista Home program.
As far as Best Buy is concerned, it‘s Good Bye for me.

Kathy Shales • TC

Toxic plastination
Anne Stanton‘s article, “Body of Evidence“ (2/25), was most informative and extremely important to the awareness of the public.
Are you aware that in the Dow process of plastination that trychlorethylene, a very toxic substance, is used to soak these poor dead things and their organs, sometimes for hours at a time? Do these ‘models’ give off gases at their exhibits therefore? Acetone is also toxic to humans. OHSA should be concerned, right?

S. Eileen Donan • via email

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