University Library Gallery, University of Maryland
September 27 October 25, 1981
When selecting works for the show, I thought it would be an interesting idea to include pieces that had never before left their "sculpture park" home in Coventry, Connecticut. Admittedly, I had some work to do: my father has had over sixty one-man shows. Of the pieces that were selected though, all of the maquettes and nine larger sculptures: Vertical Motif numbers 6, 19 and 20; corten Screen number 5; Diamond Series numbers 3 and 5; Harlequin; Inchworm; Grasshopper; War Bonnet; and Portal Sculpture have never been shown previously.
Vertical Motif number 20 and both of the Viaduct Series were completed just months before the announcement of the show. They have the wonderful freshness of a Beaujolais wine; however we also tried to include a cross section of years. A piece like Portal Sculpture or Inchworm, each completed in the early seventies, still holds up well and has even improved with age.
Logistics had to be considered. It would be fine if space could be made to fit the sculpture, but usually one has to find sculpture to fit the space. As my father and I were selecting possible pieces, we had eight and ten-foot ceilings to contend with, and several sculptures tall enough to pierce them. But with the large pieces we could spill out onto the University Library grounds.
We first thought of what to place in the ten-foot high windowed space. As this is written, we believe that the vertical Diamond Screens, the Vertical Motifs and possibly corten Screen number 9 would be suitable. We tested their appearance at home before the show, lining them up at five-foot intervals, and letting them reside in this state for two weeks. The Vertical and Diamond Series go well together in that, simply, they maintain a consistent idea. Here too, corten pieces fit right in. Sara Oechsle, the third and very integral member of the team preparing for the exhibition, agreed with the plan.
As the sculptures were being grouped in one large area, things became apparent. The pieces being selected were all turning up mono- of dichromatic. They were painted black, made of corten (a special steel that forms a coat of permanent, protective rust) or, just one step further, two colors; black and white, yellow and light green, or red and black. Only one of the large pieces, Grasshopper, turned up with more than two colors.
This exhibition is more subdued than former ones. This is not to say that it is any less powerful. It is my contention that color should be used as an enhancer of shape and form. It should not be the overriding factor in the success of any particular piece. In fact, my father's maquettes, done in the period of 1974 to 1978, are consistently black. They rely solely on the organic unity of their forms. These organic forms are what constitute this show.
In curating this exhibition, I do feel that a small piece of myself has traveled to Maryland with it. The space will be transformed by the exhibition violated, accepted, enhanced, and then, after it is over and the sculpture taken down, suddenly empty. I hope that in that emptied moment I will have been able to speak to you of the great admiration and appreciation I have for my father's sculptures and for my father.