Everyone knows the inside of the Eastern Shore Art Center is full of beautiful art. However, you may not know that we have just as much to see on the outside as we do on the inside! On the grounds of the Art Center, we display 11 pieces of sculpture, each with its own unique character. This month on the blog, we’re going to take you on a tour of the ESAC outdoor sculptures (feel free to go by the Art Center and follow along!).
At the very front of the Art Center within the brick courtyard you first see this swooping bronze sculpture. This piece is Lunar Response by Bill Keating. Lunar Response was commissioned by the ESAA in 1984 and paid for by Walter Roberts of Fairhope. Keating said the sculpture was based on the aura of Fairhope.
Lunar Response was hand-formed by Keating. About working with metal, he said, “I see metal as part of nature, coming raw from the earth, then refined by man. I strive to bring it back to nature by treating it as earth, to be formed and managed much as a potter manages his clay.“
To the right of the Art Center’s front door you will next find two different works that have been donated to the Eastern Shore Art Center. One is a bronze sculpture of two herons, while the other is a fountain. Maryland sculptor Walter Matia sculpted Great Blue Herons, which was then donated by The McLean Family. It is part of the COPA’s Sculpture Trail. The other is hanging on the wall behind the birds – Stele Disc.
About his sculpture, Matia said in Art of the West, “For me, the hard thing isn’t really the hands skills of sculpting, it’s having something worthwhile to say.” To learn more about Walter, you can visit his website at http://matia.com/.
Stele Disc was donated by Brownel & Kendrick. This massive blue aluminum disc was made by Terry Weldon in 1980, using aluminum and polyurethane enamels. Weldon calls this series of works “mandalas,” a term meaning a Hindu or Buddhist graphic symbol of the universe. He said, “These contemporary mandalas of surface origami, in their circular form, express enlightenment, the whole or completeness of man’s psyche and the relationship between man and the whole of nature.”
Walking along the sidewalk towards the parking lot, you’ll find a small, unassuming metal sculpture on your left. This piece is Maternity by Raphael. She was donated by Dr. Fred Diegman. Every piece on the Art Center grounds (and inside!) is unique, but Maternity is definitely one of the most unique pieces we have to offer! Be sure to look at her belly closely to find out why she’s called “Maternity.”
As you walk into the parking lot towards the side Academy entrance, you will see a four-foot-long ceramic alligator hanging on the wall of the Art Center. This is Gator-gama.
Gator-gama was made by the participants in the Alabama Art Education Association’s fall conference, which was held at the Eastern Shore Art Center in October 2015. Attendees participated in workshops with artists, teachers, and creators like Ardith Goodwin and Connie Cazort. One workshop was with Maria Spies, where they created small parts of the alligator, designed by Nancy Raia. After firing them, Maria put together the parts to form the entire piece. In 2016, the ESAC put Gator-gama permanently on display as a commemoration of the conference and its participants.
Next to our outdoor gazebo, you’ll see two large metal flowers amidst the foliage. These flowers were made by William F. Colburn, Jr, and they were installed on the grounds of ESAC in 2000. The flower that looks more like a lily (on the left as you’re facing away from the building) was donated by Jack and Jolane Edwards, whereas the other was donated by the artist himself. Jack and Jolane are known at the Art Center for their continuous support over the years, as well as their participation with COPA, ESAC’s Committee on Public Art.
A plaque at the foot of this flower reads, “As long as you’re going to think anyway, you might as well think BIG! – Donald Trump”
A plaque at the foot of this flower reads:
“For the wonder of each hour
Of the day and of the night
Hill and vale, and tree and flower
Sun and moon, and stars of light.
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.
– F.S. Pierpoint – 1864″
As you head east along the Art Center property, away from the building and towards Mosher Castle, you will see a large bottle tree made of ceramic pieces. Its sibling is at the north end of the Art Center property, near the entrance to the Academy. The bottle tree (left) was made in 2005 by Larry Sims, Jeff Beard, Don Stone, and Tom Stafford. They made it as a clay project to showcase ESAC’s work. The totem pole by the Academy (right) was created and donated in 2001 by ceramic students of Joan Ross to honor her work as a clay teacher at the Art Center.
The newest addition to the outdoor sculpture garden is a bright red cube. Upon closer inspection, you’ll realize it’s actually an intricate compilation of rectangles, made to form a stairstep pattern. Artist member Martha Hopkins made and donated this piece, which ESAC is proud to display as a physical manifestation of our artist members’ many accomplishments. As part of the May 2020 pop-up Corona art exhibition, Hopkins added the globe resembling the virus itself. This piece now currently resides on Oak Street closest to the corner of Bancroft.
This particular sculpture stands at the exit of the parking lot, to the right of the Academy entrance. This piece was created by local artist Ameri’ca Jones and recently refurbished by Dean Mosher. It originally stood at the Corner of Oak and Section Streets as the facility’s signage.
Hopefully this provided a peek into the long history the Art Center has of collecting and displaying sculpture. Many of these pieces have been with the center through remodels and re-positioning. They are our collection, and we love each one. We hope you enjoyed the tour, and be sure to check back soon for more updates about what’s going on at ESAC!