Monday, February 9, 2009

Two Posts, One Stone

Part One:

Exhibiting in Winthrop University galleries February 9 – March 26 is a very impressive collection of objects created by Alfred Ward, Artist and Professor Emeritus of Winthrop University. Alf, as he is known around campus, specializes in Jewelry and Metals and has created work for Spink & Sons in London and for Her Majesty the Queen and has produced pieces for The Royal Air Force and The Royal Family of Saudi Arabia. And while these may be great reasons to be impressed with Mr. Ward, the more you get to know him, the more impressive he gets.

Alf was a child in England during the German bombing raids of World War II. He is a gifted writer and storyteller and when he shares specific stories of downed planes and mad dashes to the bomb shelter the listener or reader is riveted, hanging on every single elegantly accented word that sprints from his lips. He served as Chair of the Department of Art & Design at Winthrop during the time I was in undergraduate school and I looked forward to any opportunity to meet with him to discuss my schedule (pronounced “shed-jewel”). Having retired from Winthrop a couple of years ago, Alf can now be found each spring wearing an awesome hat and massaging a cool white Fender Stratocaster as part of a great blues combo performing at the WUG Spring Gallery Reception.

Alf is, without question, the coolest man you’ll ever meet. He is as smooth, polished, and exquisite as the priceless objects of art he has on display. What I’m saying is: If I were a teenage girl, I would totally have posters of Alf Ward taped to the walls of my room.

March 5 at 8:00pm Mr. Ward will be speaking in the Rutledge Auditorium about this exhibition of fashion oriented objects. You would be foolish to miss this opportunity to hear him speak.

Part Two:

Last Friday was the Opening Reception for the Winter Exhibition at Winthrop University Galleries. Other exhibits on display showcase the work of Anne Lemanski with an exhibit titled “Interlaced”, an exhibition of student work from the “craft” side of art titled “The Function of Art”, and the MFA student works in progress exhibition. I’ve previewed these exhibits and am very excited about having this work on display for the next couple of months. I like to be present for as many of the Openings as possible on campus and this is one for which I was certainly willing to make the drive.

But I had a prior commitment.

While elbows were being rubbed and wine was being sipped and art was being appreciated, I spent my evening building towers out of brightly colored blocks and reading the classics. That is, if you consider Dr. Seuss books the classics…….and I do.

After dinner my 2 year old persistently asked if we could “play blocks” until I followed him to the wide open space of carpet. With a wide smile he deposited two large boxes of blocks on the floor with a crash of plastic. For the next hour while using part English and part gibberish he instructed me on the finer points of toddler architecture. I learned that this blue piece does not, in fact, belong there at all….it goes here instead. I learned (or was reminded) that there’s no such thing as gravity. I learned that imagination and creativity doesn’t always need to be lectured on the importance of a wide, sturdy base in order to yield a very tall impressive tower. And I learned that the best thing about building a tower taller than daddy is watching the tower slowly collapse and scatter color all over the floor.

Then we read books. Lots of books. We read the small cardboard books and the large hardback books. We read books filled with visual candy and books with beautiful word rhythms. We also read terrible books. Books with computer generated images having all the originality of a bar code. We read books written so horribly that you would have to read sentences twice thinking you’d left out a word or mixed up the order, only to find that sadly, that was exactly what was written.

Here’s where I’d like to say that if you try your hand at writing novels or poetry and you just don’t quite measure up that does NOT mean you should try writing children’s books. Apparently some writers feel that there is something of a lower standard of talent required if your book is illustrated or sold in the section of the bookstore that also hosts story time with a large costumed character. If anything, I believe that writers of children’s literature should be the most talented writers out there. My child is experiencing the mashing together of sounds, words, and meaning in a way that will likely stick with him for the rest of his life and frankly, I don’t want him reading what was left at the bottom of the barrel.
I could apply this argument to varying genres of art including so called “Christian Art” but luckily I’ve played with enough blocks and read enough Dr. Seuss to be in a good mood.

Two days removed from the reading of many books and completely out of the blue, the young one was strapped in his car seat and rambling on about the full moon rising outside his window. The next thing I heard was “…not with a fox, not in a box…..not in a boat, not with a goat…” I was so proud.


i wear mittens but not gloves. said...

hooray for blue!

ps. i would totally call dibbs on a alf ward poster for my bedroom.
he retired my junior year, he is missed!
i wish i would have taken a class w him,
i remember the year brian davis made this installation piece outside which was like a dance floor that lit up in different patterns, after the opening some friends and i danced and danced and danced on it, i remember alf watching and even though it was during the evening, i knew my cheeks were blushing.

Nora said...

I didn't make it to the opening either...I was too hungry and pooped after working the sale all day wearing awfully uncomfortable shoes that were a size to small and being on my feet for nearly 8 hours, my toes are still sore...but I made $160 and sold almost all of my pieces, so it was a good day.
Alf seemed like a cool guy, but I just got here too late. Is it weird that I got a vivid image of you in a frilly girls bedroom with an Alf Ward poster with a big grin, fists sqeezed together infront of you, giggling and jumping up and down like a preteen at a pop concert?

e-sketchbook said...

austin...i remember the dance floor!

nora...your vision of me is weird....but strangely accurate.