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-   -   My first public monument!! (http://www.sculpture.net/community/showthread.php?t=10984)

Alfred 12-16-2011 11:02 AM

My first public monument!!
 
Hey guys, it seems like I've been so busy with the commercial work and making a name for myself in that world, that the idea of finding any success as a fine artist had gone out the window. But earlier this year, I was contacted for a small bronze portrait of a couple getting married, which I completed in March. A couple months back, I was contacted about a large scale bronze figure. Like all the other times I've received "that call", I didn't expect anything to come from it. But the e-mails kept going back and forth and soon there was a face to face meeting scheduled. Now, after a couple city council meetings and preliminary sketches, I'm getting ready to start the maquette for my very first monumental sculpture.

It's going to be a 9' tall sculpt of Lucky Baldwin (quite the character in early California history). I've actually been commissioned by his great, great, great grand daughter. It's been a fun process doing the research on this colorful character, and now that the design has been approved and I'm getting ready to start the 27" tall maquette, I'm finally feeling like "this is actually happening".

It's funny how when you stop going after something, it comes and finds you. I hope that I make myself proud on this sculpt. I want it to be something that my 4 month old daughter can visit when she gets older and be proud that her daddy made something that cool. I want the city of Arcadia to be proud to have it. I want my little mark on art history to be a good one. And who knows, maybe once this one is done, the word will get out and I'll start getting more calls for commissions.

I'll keep you guys posted on the progress of the piece, and try to post pictures as I go.

Cheers for now!!

Alfred

GlennT 12-16-2011 12:13 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Congrats and right on, bro! I like your attitude about this commission!

evaldart 12-16-2011 01:23 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Yes congrats! It is always the case that ones continued hard work and self-determined progress yields great rewards...and sometimes there is money too.:D

tonofelephant 12-16-2011 02:54 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Alfred, that is fantastic. Looking forward to seeing pictures.

Mack 12-16-2011 03:29 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Congratulations on the commission Alfred and I hope it goes smoothly for you.
My first life-size bronze was enlarged in CA and I'd be happy to pass the name on to you if you don't have that already covered. We took my 25"h clay model up to 8'h in foam and took the molds from that. Quality work. Again, congrats!

obseq 12-16-2011 08:32 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Great news, Alfred! Congratulations!
Will you be able to share updates as you work, and any idea where it will be installed?
I'll be sure to stop for a look at the finished piece next time I'm out that way.

Alfred 12-17-2011 12:00 AM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Thanks guys. I'm really excited about the whole thing. It comes at a time when things in my life are really crazy. A new baby, my commercial sculpting career is going really well, and I've got a show to get ready for in April (Monsterpalooza). I'm going to have to juggle a lot of responsibilities, but hey, that's what you got to do if you want to succeed.

Mack: I've already contacted the two big places out here that do enlargements. Daniels and Cyber FX. Both gave me a similar price, so it'll all come down to who I feel comfortable with. I wish the cost was a little less. But after running the numbers on this. It would actually cost me more (in my own time), if I built the large scale armature and foamed out the body myself. With the scan and output, I have a 95% complete sculpt, I just need to paint some clay on and add on the details. I'm going to focus on sculpting a really nice maquette so there is less to do in the large scale piece.

Obseq: The piece is going right out in front of the Santa Anita Race Track, in the median of Huntington Drive. It's a great location for a large scale piece. Although there has been talk about finding a more pedestrian friendly location. If they choose a more pedestrian location, then I think the piece will need to be a bit smaller and closer to the ground. We'll see what happens at the next city council meeting, when I present the completed maquette.

I'm going to do my best to document the progress as I go, but I'm terrible at that. I hate stopping to take pictures because it interrupts my flow and it takes me out of the zone. Still, this being my first public monument, it would be nice to have a record of the progress. I'll do my best to post as I go and share my work with you guys.

Thanks again to all of you. Have a Happy Holiday Season and a Great New Year.

Cheers!!

cheesepaws 12-17-2011 09:35 AM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Congrats! Can't wait to see those photos of the process.

rika 12-17-2011 02:38 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
That's great, Alfred, how exciting! it will certainly be nice to see some action in this forum as we follow your process.

Sculptor7 12-18-2011 10:51 AM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Congratulations. Hope everything works out as well as you could wish.

fritchie 12-18-2011 11:22 AM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Congratulations, Alfred! This shows that patience does pay. Give us some pics when you can.

Dries 12-18-2011 01:39 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Congratulations Alfred and may everything run smooth for you.

Alfred 12-20-2011 11:05 AM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Hey guys, thanks for all the kind words. Here is the first in the set of images I'll be sharing with you guys over then next couple months. These are the base designs and scale comparison that was submitted to the city.

The city really likes the base design on the far left. Since they are having to pay for that portion of the project, they will have final say, but I do get to provide guidance based on my expertise. I think I mentioned it earlier, that the sculpt is being donated by the Great, Great, Great Grand Daughter of Lucky. She and I working together on the sculptures design. Since it's being donated, the city doesn't have much say about the design. However, they could refuse the donation if they really didn't like it. So far, the design of the sculpt has been received with great excitement. I know it's just a guys standing there in a suit, but I'm really gonna try to bring some life to sculpt, and make it something that is a little more than just another suited man.

I started the armature yesterday, I should have it finished today, and then I'll start throwing some clay up. I'll try to take some in progress shots so I can share a batch with you guys after the holidays.

Cheers!!

Alfred

sculptr97 12-20-2011 12:22 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Congradulations Alfred! I can't wait to see the finished product.
I know you will do an excellent job! Joel

racine 12-21-2011 08:34 AM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
good for u Alfred, i personally prefer all the bases except the gravestone on the left... i wondered who lucky baldwin was so found this... seems a pretty cool guy, the lucky mine story is a gem but i thought this worth sharing.. from wiki:

""Baldwin's matrimonial ventures periodically created sensations. He was married four times, the first three marriages ending in divorce. He was sued by four women for breach of promise of marriage, one of which was awarded $75,000 in damages. Anita Baldwin, one of his accusers who was later reported to be his niece, wounded him in the Baldwin Hotel with a pistol shot in 1883. About ten years later he was shot by Vinnie Ashley who was attempting to avenge his injured sister. His fourth wife and their daughter were at his side when he died at their Arcadia ranch.""
so x cool.

evaldart 12-21-2011 09:48 AM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Yes Racine, this does bring up the issue of exactly WHAT elements of a sculpted subjects life/persona, especially in a tributary or memorial commission, are to be usedor icluded in making formal decisions about the gesture and the facial composing. Do the payers wish the subject to be a certain way? Are THEY dictating this? Or is the artist free to use a researched biographical breadth as fuel for achieving the "tone" of the piece? And is it historically responsible to simply illustrate someones desires about how the "person" might be perceived? Does it matter at all that any historical "truth" is accomplished (is such even accomplishable?) Me, I would day that everyone can get what they want here. If Alfred challenges himself, formally, and trusts his impulses about how this (sculpture) should proceed I dont doubt that it will properly transcend the soap-opera that is (anyone's) life.

I like the most box-y block at the far right.

Alfred 12-21-2011 11:40 AM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Having researched this character and found all kinds of great stories, it's also important to remember what the memorial is to serve. It's purpose is to celebrate the first mayor of the city of Arcadia, as well as the founder of the Santa Anita Race Track. The council made mention of wanting a more regal stance when they saw the more relaxed figure I had proposed. I disagreed and said that in all the photographic research, as well as the biographical, Lucky was not one for formalities. He was a very casual character who enjoyed the niceties that his wealth had provided.
In a sculpture that has no other elements to it (other than the figure itself), the challenge of bringing as much character to simple figure is one that requires subtlety and and as much "pushing" as one can do. I don't want to have a figure who's been shot on the shoulder, or one who has women after him. I don't want to depict his "less than moral" side either. I want the city to be proud of their hero, so I'm focusing on his accomplishments (which were many and great), and using that as the inspiration for the piece. I still want him to be true to his character, and that's why he'll be standing a bit more relaxed, surveying the area he helped to develop.
It's a major part of his life and one worth celebrating. I don't think our public monuments need to celebrate the more shady aspects of our founding figures. Otherwise, we'd have no heros, but some pretty outrageous sculpture. Ha ha!!

Cheers!!

Alfred

p.s. My personal choice for a base is the stone brick. It ties in with the architecture of the area and creates a more period feel to the design. He's not a modern figure, so he shouldn't have a modern base. I tried to provide examples that would show off the sculpture and yet feel as though the period of the sculpture and base were one. We'll see what they end up choosing when they compromise because of limited city budgets.

KatyL 12-24-2011 05:54 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
There's actually a lot of nice art around Santa Anita. Horses, obviously, but other art as well. I'll be looking for your sculpture next time I go out there in a few years.

hzjhds 12-24-2011 11:07 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Hi Alfred, as for the base, have you considering using marble. Ordinary brick may get dim with time pass by.

Alfred 12-26-2011 10:49 AM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Yeah KatyL, the city is happy to have more figurative work being placed in the city. The current city council isn't a big fan of the abstracted sculpture that none of them understand. It works in my favor, and I'm happy to be adding to be adding to rich sculptural heritage of the city.

hzjhds, There would be no brick being used. The design in the sketch calls for stone block - NOT brick. But that doesn't matter since the city doesn't like that design anyway. It's up to them what they want to use as the base. I only get to consult on the process.

Cheers!!

p.s. WIP pics coming soon.

GlennT 12-26-2011 11:18 AM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Alfred, I don't know if you would welcome comments here on the pose as represented by the drawing, would prefer them on private email, or would rather wait for the idea to be expressed in a maquette first.

evaldart 12-26-2011 03:59 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Glenn, the drawing is not the art, and for that matter, niether is the "maqsuette". The "pose, or stance or gesture will have to be altered and interpreted a thousand times before is it what Alfred "feels" is right. And thereafter, there is the eventual trouble of the foundry folk's interpretation (another whole issue). I would say that the maquette will cause a completely different experience than this simple illustration.

Alfred 12-27-2011 01:18 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Hey Glenn, you know that I don't shy away from constructive criticism. I welcome anyone's opinion on my work. However, I will say that evaldart is right in sayin that the drawing is just a generalized road map for the sculpt. I've made some subtle changes to the maquette. It's still in the spirit of the drawing, but it's far more natural looking. I have certain limitations that I'm working within. The client has an idea for how she wants her Great, Great, Great Grandfather to be portrayed, as does the city. Ultimately it's the client whom I have to please (well, her and myself). There's certain things I'm trying to say with the piece which are hard to do with a simple standing figure. There's also the fact that it will be 9' high on a 4' high base. That makes the top of his head 14' off the ground. There's certain design issues that need to be addressed so that the piece looks good for both, drivers (the majority of those that will see the piece) and for pedestrians (who have a bit more limited access to the piece).

I'll leave it up to any of you to decide how you would like comment on my work. If you prefer to keep our conversation private, that's fine by me. But if you'd like to post your thoughts publicly, you can do so without worry of insulting me. I have skin like a rhino and am not offended by what people say about my work. I've heard it all at this point.

Cheers!!

Alfred

GlennT 12-28-2011 12:40 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Hi Alfred, Here is what I wanted to say in response to the drawing and this commission, especially in light of your desires as stated at the conclusion of your first post:

While I understand and respect your desire to show the man in his natural relaxed state, I think the clients desire for a more regal stance is their less than precise language way of saying something very important, which is lacking in the current pose.

Let us say we wanted a sculpture of you, Alfred. Your friends might know you by the way you lean or slouch if you do so, or a back of the head srcatching gesture, etc. But what really matters is the creative life and energy going on inside of you, all those great ideas waiting to burst out into sculptural form. Thus, if I were sculpting you, I would first search for a gesture that was meaningful and expressed this inner mind at work, and then, after that was settled, see if adding any percieved personal gestures could amplify the portraiture aspect. If I were to place undo emphasis on your slouch, it would be doing a disservice to all else that makes up your complex life.

To accomplish your stated goal of a sculpture to be proud of over time, the image must go beyond mere portraiture and say something significant about the man, his accomplishments, his personality as a compelling leader in the city, etc. There are any number of men who could be standing in similar clothes looking relaxed- how is the gesture you select going to make him stand apart from the crowd of period dressed sculptural works and personify the unique character he was?

This does not require theatrics to accomplish, nor does it have to appear "regal". There may in fact be any number of subtle things that will be done deeper into the full-sized work that are hard to articulate in a sketch or smaller study. But the work will also be seen from a distance which is similar in effect to looking at the study. At that viewing distance it needs to find significance with a gesture that draws one's interest. This has not occured with the sketch, and I say this knowing full well how poor a job a sketch can do in communicating all of the myriad ideas going through one's head as to what will be done as the work advances.

I keeping thinking of the Admiral Farragut sculpture by Augustus Saint Gaudens, which launched his public monument career. There was an intensity in the gaze which spoke volumes, and of course such a thing would not translate in a sketch or study. But there were also things in the stance, hand gesture, and billowing of his coat that in this case gave it both a regal sense and a natural sense, appropriate and informative of the subject.

When you find this "perfect" gesture for the work at hand, you will know it and it will be pleasing to all parties involved including yourself, present and future.

Alfred 12-28-2011 01:58 PM

Re: My first public monument!!
 
Glenn, that is a very well stated and clearly articulate point. I'm hoping to achieve all of those things in the finished work. Currently, he has less of a slouched shoulder look. I've added a little movement to the long coat (subtle, but more interesting than motionless clothing). His portrait and gaze are what will really be a focus of mine. He'll be looking off to the west. I want his gaze to embody several things. A natural look, of course, but more importantly, one of contemplating the new horizon that lies before him. The dawning (and yes I realize it's ironic that he's looking to the west for this), of a new age for the western city. The base has a subtle use of symbolism that shows an uncultivated land behind him, and smooth clean looking future ahead of him. His head has a more natural turn than in the drawing (which is front on).

The challenge of creating something that goes beyond, while still having to conform to client and city wishes, is a hard one. But not impossible. I know I'm still a young sculptor, but I've created a lot of work and have studied the rich heritage that is my profession. I have a long history of great artists who have come before me, to draw upon for inspiration. In the end, I only aim to please myself. It's the only goal I ever place on my work. If I can be proud of what I've made, then it doesn't matter what other people think of it.

Thanks for the post Glenn, it's a helpful reminder for me, to not forget what I hold to be important, and end up focusing on surface and detail, because it makes the client happy.

Cheers!!

Alfred


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