Artist Douglas Hoagg ties the present to the past
Like many artists, Douglas Hoagg discovered a common thread through his work.
“I’ve always worked in the geometric realm,” said the Traverse City artist whose exhibition ‘Formations’ is currently on display at KALEIDOSCOPE, located in the Tru-Fit Trouser Building off Woodmere Avenue. KALEIDOSCOPE, which serves as a visual arts education center, is owned by Hoagg and his wife, Kathleen.
Even when he was an undergraduate student at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, Hoagg was producing work with geometric qualities that would reappear throughout his career, particularly in ‘Formations.’ “This work comes out of the Liberation Project that my friend Joseph Schuetzenhofer has been working on for almost eight years now,” Hoagg said about his classmate at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
THE BACKGROUND STORY
While living in Norfolk, Virginia, Schuetzenhofer learned there was a German U-boat that sank off the coast of North Carolina during WWII. The dead German soldiers were buried in Arlington National Cemetery next to American soldiers.
“That made a big impression on him,” said Hoagg, “the fact that these soldiers were buried with dignity, even though they were the enemy.”
When the Austrian citizen went back to his home country in 1997, his memory was jogged after he heard about a group of four U.S. Air Force B24 aircraft that crashed near the town of Poellau, Austria during WWII.
Despite the town’s war memorials to the local heroes of WWI and WWII, there was no mention of the countless allied soldiers who lost their lives in the area during the war to liberate Europe.
From that discovery, Schuetzenhoefer and Hoagg — along with artists William Contino and Emily Hines — set out to create a memorial honoring the 10 soldiers who died in that field.
Erected in 10 days and temporarily installed at a public park, the memorial was designed to mimic the shape of a rudder of a B24 WWII aircraft. The four painted images represent each plan that crashed in the area during the war, along with two silk screen images; one, an American Air Force division; the other, a Russian division that fought at the end of the war near Poellau.
A PERSONABLE EXHIBIT
For Hoagg, the project struck a personal chord as his father was a B24 bomber pilot during WWII, having flown several missions over Austria.
Using his father’s flight manifests, his squadron name and other flight information, Hoagg created an etching representing a blueprint with the outline of four B24 bombers.
The piece hangs on the exhibit wall at six feet tall because, “that’s how tall my father was,” Hoagg noted.
Other pieces in ‘Formations’ continued from The Liberation Project include four wall-hanging sculptures, which use actual metal sheets from the wing of one of the bombers. Each piece contains 10 golden rectangles — “which is the shape most pleasing to the eye,” Hoagg added — representing each of the men who lost their lives in the crash.
On the exhibit’s opposite wall, several framed, colorful sketches contain the same 10 golden rectangles assembled in various positions and relationships to each other.
While ‘Formations’ may stand alone as its own exhibit, it is best enjoyed when Hoagg is in the room, describing his thought process, his father and The Liberation Project as a whole…each one tied to the other so tightly, yet unintentionally.
‘Formations’ will be on display at KA- LEIDOSCOPE through Jan. 2. It is located at 1129 Woodmore Ave. Suite E. For appointment, call 944-4913.
Traverse City artist Douglas Hoagg holds a photo of his father’s WWII Air Force division in front of an etching used in his exhibit ‘Formations.’ The exhibit was inspired by a memorial for a group of
U.S. pilots who crashed near Poellau, Austria during WWII.