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December 20, 2011

Memorial Art Gallery commissions Wendell Castle sculpture

Wendell Castle

During more than five decades as a sculptor and furniture maker, Rochester’s Wendell Castle has been called a “trailblazer,” “an American phenomenon,” “a leading figure in American craft,” and “the father of the art furniture movement.”

The Memorial Art Gallery has commissioned a monumental cast-iron sculpture by Castle as one of the anchor installations of its planned Centennial Sculpture Park. The piece (working title, Unicorn Family) will measure 22 feet in diameter and consist of a gathering area with a table and three chairs and a 13-foot LED lamp. A maquette of the work, which is scheduled to be installed in late 2012, will be on view in the gallery’s Vanden Brul Pavilion this month.

The sculpture and installation are made possible by an anonymous donor.

wood sculpturesIt’s not the first time that MAG has showcased Castle’s work. In 1990, the gallery hosted Furniture by Wendell Castle, a major retrospective organized by the Detroit Institute of Fine Arts. Castle was also one of only four artists from our region included in the 1995 exhibition The White House Collection of American Crafts. And from 2004 to 2006, the gallery exhibited work from all phases of his prodigious career in the long-term installation Wendell Castle in Rochester.
 Unicorn Family joins 12 works by Castle that are already in the gallery’s permanent collection. 

“As Wendell is both a longtime friend of the Memorial Art Gallery and an artist of international stature, we are delighted that his work will become a vital part of our new Centennial Sculpture Park,” says director Grant Holcomb.

Centennial Sculpture Park, a community space on the grounds of the Memorial Art Gallery, is scheduled to be open in time for the gallery’s 100th anniversary celebration in October 2013.

Castle is one of three major artists already commissioned to create work for the park. Tom Otterness, known internationally for his engaging installations, is creating a major new work—a female sculptor carving a male figure from a block of stone, not far from a “quarry”—to be installed near the intersection of Goodman Street and University Avenue. Jackie Ferrara , whose geometric pathways have been commissioned for sculpture parks and landscapes around the country, is designing the path leading from the quarry to the front entrance of MAG. A fourth commission, still under wraps, will anchor the Goodman Street entrance. 

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