Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Wings have Landed

As noted earlier ,
Oskar J. W. Hansen (1892-1971)
was one of the club's
most distinguished sculptors.

But whatever happened to "Wings" ? (the piece shown above)

One copy is still on display
in the historic Rand Tower (Minneapolis)

But now we've learned
that another copy was cast,
installed in a Virginia airport,
and finally rescued by
its current owner who
has sent us the following message:

I came across your blog "The Old Palette" and read with great interest the entries about Oskar Hansen and your "obsession" with his works. I too, share an interest in his works and have over the years attempted to collect as much information as possible on his sculptures. I am especially interested in his Art Deco period and the major works that he completed during the years leading up and in the years after the works he did for the Hoover Dam. As you may be aware, there is precious little information on his other works (if any) that he did other then the ones that you covered in your blogs. I find it odd that there seem to be few works in museum or private collections and, as such, there is no record of any items changing hands other then some small items, such as his later pieces done for Virginia Metalcrafters. I am perplexed by the fact that such a talented sculptor who studied under such great masters created so few works. Even more perplexing is that the few works he did complete were of such a grand scale and for public display. Maybe you can help shed some light on this fact - or maybe I'm just missing knowledge of a vast body of his work. Thanks to your blog, I have come been made aware of the busts that were individually commissioned. Even with that, it seems that he either made relatively small or large pieces.

I have been frustrated by the fact that, in my opinion, a relatively important 20th century artist is so unrecognized and under appreciated in the fine art circles. As a fellow connoisseur of his works, I wanted to share with you some information that you may or may not know regarding one of the works you have pictured in your first blog. Have you ever wondered why the photograph of the sculpture "Wings" taken with Mr. Hansen that you have at the top of the page is silver and that the one in the Rand building is currently in natural bronze. True the silver coating that was originally on the the Rand "Wings" was probably removed as it was fragile paint and must have been damaged in such a public setting. However, I can assure you that the sculpture with the artist in the photograph taken from Beyond the Cherubim is still silver. This is due to the fact that there were two "Wings" statues cast. One was cast (as commissioned) for the Rand building and a second one was cast for Mr. Hansen himself. He must have loved the statue so much that he wanted one for himself. Further evidence of this is the fact that he kept his "Wings" with him in his studio in Charlottesville, VA until his death (a fact not even knownn by the current owners of the Rand "Wings"). You may wonder how I know these facts. It is due to the fact, that Hansen's "Wings" currently resides in my home.

After Mr. Hansen's death, the executors of his estate loaned "Wings" to Richmond's Byrd Airport. It resided there as a centerpiece until such time as the bank, which had lent the funds to transport and install it, called the loan. At that time, neither the airport nor Mr. Hansen's estate had the funds to pay off the note and the bank threatened to repossess it. Long story short, I paid off the loan, acquired "Wings", and agreed to keep it in its location. That was until the airport was rebuilt and they were no longer interested in appropriately displaying it. At that point I had the piece moved to my home. Attached is a recent photograph of Hansen's "Wings".

I hope as a fellow enthusiast that you find this information informative and that it will add to your sphere of knowledge on Oskar Hansen and his body of work. As, as far as I can tell, you have the most complete photographic catalog of his works. The only other work of which I am aware (although never seen) is a monument to Columbus in Rio de Janeiro. Additionally, should you have any information on any works that may be in a museum or private collection, I would be interested in knowing.

And I think it looks better in silver,
the same color as an airplane

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Return of Jerry Ruiz

Some people join the Palette and Chisel
just to show their work in the gallery.

But some come to the workshops.

And some of those
come several times a week,
like the two characters shown above,
the man on the left being Jerry Ruiz
who has been drawing here
for at least 15 years.

And then suddenly,
he disappeared.

After 6 months,
a lot of us were getting worried.

Tor Muehl Googled the obituaries,
but way too many people
are named "Jerry Ruiz" in Chicago.

Ann McMurray (super-model) reported seeing someone
who looked like him on the street
last month,
but maybe it was somebody else.

And then finally,
Jerry strolled into
the Saturday afternoon
drawing workshop yesterday,
carrying a bunch of new pencils
and drawing pad.

Where had he been?

"I've been around", he answered.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Rudolph Weisenborn on "Lost Chicago"

WTTW just ran their episode on Lost Chicago Murals
including one at Nettelhorst Elementary School

by the Palette and Chisel's
most famous modernist
Rudolph Weisenborn

Weisenborn was one of the P&C's
three notorious modernists
all of whom quit when their idea of a weak painting
was juried into a Palette and Chisel show.
(imagine that! P&C members actually concerned about what
the P&C Gallery is exhibiting)

"On the left, an abstracted portrait of a sophisticated urban dweller is followed by forms of modern transportation such as small biplanes at Chicago Municipal Airport (Midway) and boats on Lake Michigan. The right half of the composition shows the stockyards on Chicago’s South Side and a construction worker holding an anvil and working on a steel frame structure."

Defiantly expressionistic,
Weisenborn was the prototype
for young Chicago artists
ever since.

Had he been born 50 years later,
he might have had a nice, comfy career
as a university art professor.

But back in his day,
he had to scrape by,
teaching small classes in his studio.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Election 2010

Only one position is being contested this year.

Val is running on the ongoing prosperity of the club
($90,000 in the building fund, membership at an all time high)

Ed is running on democracy - i.e. the quaint notion that
management should act as if it needed to be elected.
(following bylaws, posting the board minutes, conducting fair elections, allowing
members to observe board meetings)

And since we no longer have meetings
or even newsletters
where issues can be discussed,
the only way a member can present an issue
is to do a personal postal mailing to all the members.
(even e-mail is not possible,
since the office will not share email addresses)

A personal mailing costs about $200
(including postage, printing, and assembling)
so hats off to Jim Kujaca,
the only member,
other than the incumbent President,
who stepped up to the plate this year.

Mostly, Jim is concerned
about the issues
that were raised in the by-laws committee last Spring,
and have been tabled by the board ever since,
presumably in the hope
that if they sit on them long enough
they will just go away.

Val has also taken the trouble
to send a piece of mail to everyone,
reasserting the financial stability,
and responding to complaints
about the election process.

"Our elections are administered entirely by the Executive Director who is non-political by job description"

Except that the executive director, with a salary over $60,000/year,
is the one person among us who is the MOST
directly affected by the election's results.

Since Val has won the last several elections
by overwhelming majorities,
it hardly makes any difference
who does the counting.

But if an election ever did get close,
as they have sometimes been in the past,
there is no way that a concerned party,
no matter how honest,
should be allowed to supervise the process.

Which is why
we need to establish
and then excecute
house rules that govern elections.

But then --we also need house rules
to govern studio rental, teaching programs,
exhibitions, and open workshops.

And amazingly,
the rule book was lost sometime in the last decade,
(along with the minutes of the
quarterly meeting that approved term limits)
and now everything hangs upon
the prerogative of the office.

(it's very difficult
not to get cynical about all this
lost paperwork)

BTW - Here are the candidates
for the other open positions,
but what's the point?

They are all running un-opposed.

According to the by-laws,
a "Nomination Advisory Committee"
was supposed to convene in January
to recruit candidates for election,
but it never met.
so only the incumbents are running.

And finally,
here's the list of voting members,
who are really the ones
responsible for
one-man rule at our organization,
mostly because
they just don't want to be bothered.