Aug 27 2010

My marble sculpture is not at a museum,
but in our rock garden.

Everyone who decides to attend college eventually has to take a course that they wouldn’t have otherwise selected, to fulfill a requirement or an open time slot in their schedule. Colleges want graduates to be well rounded in their field of study, not just proficient in their favorite courses.

So, that’s how I became a sculptor of marble. I was a drawing and painting major working on my studio art degree at the University of Maryland in the early 1970s, and to complete my degree, I was required to take a sculpture class. I had watched a talented sorority sister, also in studio art, sculpt a clay figure with a wire armature inside to support it and that was the class I wanted to take. But, that class was full and so I had to decide whether to wait a semester or go ahead and sign up for the only other sculpture class fitting my schedule, a marble sculpting class. Well, I thought, how hard could it be?

Well, it was really hard. The physicality of marble sculpture is not to be taken lightly. On the first day of class I found myself standing on a HUGE block of marble with a jack hammer trying to hold it steady while I was shaken beyond what I had ever thought possible. Kenneth Campbell, a renown marble sculptor, was the Professor and he insisted we learn the art from start to finish. I did not expect to be hammering off large chucks of marble from the huge block I was standing on, enough for each person in the class, but I had to jump up and take my turn like everyone else.

A sculpting tool kit offered by Sculpture House.

Then I had to learn to sharpen the tools, the chisels and points on a sharpening stone with oil as a lubricant.  Next, I had to learn to hold the tools correctly and hit them with the 2 1/2 pound hammer to flick off a tiny chip of stone. Finally, I had to learn that my hands would be “ringing” with the feeling of the hammer hitting the chisel long after the sculpting session had ended. It was a long and laborious process, my marble sculpture class that semester. One that gave me the highest respect for anyone who completes a marble sculpture. Especially getting it shiny smooth by using the progressively smaller sizes of abrasive grits rubbed over and over on every surface. What I learned that year was, completing a marble sculpture takes nothing short of a miracle.

I wouldn’t know how that miracle happens because my marble sculpture was never finished to that level of perfection. Even so, my scuplture and I spent so much time together that I now display it proudly: as a petunia support and chipmunk watering hole. I feel both petunias and chipmunks should have nothing but the best.

And, every time I go to the University of Maryland and am walking by the Night – Day sculpture created by Professor Campbell and photographed below, I say, “Hi!” to him and wish him well.

Kenneth Campbell (1913 – 1986)

When I was enrolled in Mr. Campbell’s marble sculpture class in 1972, he was installing his Night – Day sculpture on the University of Maryland, College Park campus. Marble sculpture is physically so demanding. I mean these blocks are HEAVY. It is amazing how he was able to balance them so that they are in place today, just as he left them, thirty-eight years ago. (Thirty-eight years ago? I was watching him thirty-eight years ago?…sigh…)

“Night – Day” sculpture resembling Stonehenge along the path between Holzapfel and H. J. Patterson Halls at the University of Maryland, College Park; sculpted by Kenneth Campbell, art professor emeritus, who taught stone carving for fifteen years; created in 1972, the pieces represent the various stages of “enlightenment”

If you are interested in seeing this sculpture listed in D.C. Memorials or view other sculptures in natural settings in the Washington, D.C. area, click here.

“High Class in a Minute”

In this video, we can watch marble sculptress Jill Burkee use both hand tools and power tools as she breaks her sculpture free from a block of marble. While watching Ms. Burkee, you will be listening to Luciano Pavarotti, the world famous tenor opera star, singing Franck’s Panis Angelicus with some Ave Maria at the end for good measure. This is quite a dose of High Class. I hope that if it’s first thing in the morning, you’ve had your coffee.



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Aug 20 2010

I have to begin the first post of my new blog and web site with a tribute to Jethro Tull, musicians of note from the 1970s when I was in college. With today’s “Auto Tune” music culture using synthesizers and electronic voice manipulation, Jethro Tull stands out as a legendary band of true musicians, actually singing with their own voices and making real music with real musical instruments.

When Songs from the Wood was released in 1977, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  The music was so inspirational to me; the wonders of natural settings was given a soulful tribute. As one reviewer says in the comments beneath the video below,

I was inroduced to Tull by me dad.

Everytime each song you are slapped in the face by the musicianship and dare I say it? the Englishness of it, when he is singing I can almost smell the wet grass of a summers day after a shower.

Genius!

How I love that image! He says he “can almost smell the wet grass of a summers day after a shower.” Yes! I can daydream on demand whenever I hear Songs from the Wood. If you are not a fan or familiar with the title cut, just click play on the video below, after you learn about Kitty’s choice in music.

 

Kitty prefers Jethro Tull and has every disk in her collection.

Lead Singer Ian Anderson with Jethro Tull performing Songs from the Wood in 1977.

If you like it as much as I do, then go the the group’s web site by clicking here and enjoy the rest of the albums.

To appreciate what the group Jethro Tull has accomplished by creating real music for five, yes FIVE, decades, this Nova special on Auto Tune voice enhancement will explain how most singers today, including Madonna, Celine Dion and Reba McIntyre are enhanced by Auto Tune.

Andy Hildebrand, an electrical engineer and the Inventor
of Auto Tune, gives a great demonstration on NOVA.

If you want to preview Songs of the Wood disk, just
hover your mouse over the link below:

Songs From the Wood



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