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Hallowell’s granite event allows the public to witness the creation of 6 sculptures

By on September 12, 2021 0

HALLOWELL – As six sculptors from Maine each create a work of art at Stevens Commons to mark the state’s bicentennial, the public is invited to watch the process unfold daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., until the conclusion of the event on Sunday, September 19. Guests can vote for their favorite sculpture. One or more works of art will be permanently placed in downtown Hallowwell; the remaining sculptures will be available for sale through the Harlow Gallery.

The event was hosted by the Hallowell Arts & Cultural Committee, the Maine Stone Workers Guild, the Historic Hallowell Committee and Vision Hallowell.

Deb Fahy, chair of the Hallowell Arts & Cultural Committee, said the competition was funded entirely by grants and donations. The 2020 Maine Bicentennial Commission awarded $ 10,000 to the project in 2019. Recently, the Kennebec Savings Bank in Augusta donated $ 5,000.

Granite Sculptors deliver additional slabs Friday to Stevens Commons in Hallowell for this week’s granite art event. Six acclaimed sculptors will each publicly create a large work of art, working daily through Sunday, September 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Joe Phelan / Journal Kennebec

Fahy said organizers originally wanted to seek additional local sponsorships, but chose to cancel that plan as many companies were hit hard by the COVID pandemic.

Visitors are urged to follow CDC guidelines, and Fahy said hand sanitizer and masks will be available.

The four themes of the show are Living in Maine; the affairs of Maine; Maine leads; and the character of Maine. Living in Maine is linked to the variety of people and cultures in the state. Maine affairs focus on the economic activity of the state. Maine Leads presents the role of the state in national events, as its importance in the national debate on slavery. Finally, the character of Maine relates to the state’s unique communities, its diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

The six sculptors, all members of the Maine Stone Workers Guild, are Dick Alden of Boothbay, who has 25 years of experience in wood and stone carving; Jon Doody of Augusta, who has participated in numerous public art demonstrations and has been a Stevens Commons Sculptor in Residence since 2019; Mark Herrington of Franklin, a self-taught artist who describes his work as a product of “aesthetic rigor with a passion for minimalism”; Isabel Catherine Kelley of Windham, who exhibited sculptural works throughout New England after earning a BFA in sculpture with a minor in art history from Maine College of Art in 2013; Dan Ucci, based at Ledge Hill Creations in Piston, whose job is to change the texture of stone by polishing, hammering or adding other materials to give it a new and different life; and Andreas von Huene of Woolwich, who creates exquisite sculptures that cover a wide range of subjects, supports and scales.

Every day, the public can watch the six sculptors transform large chunks of granite – some almost on a human scale – into works of art. The artists are placed in stations across the commons. “They wear protections such as sturdy goggles, hearing protection and some even wear respirators,” Fahy said. “They are reasonably well separated because of COVID, and also because there is a lot of noise and debris flying out once they start working.”

In addition to the six sculptor stations, the event also has a visitor center that provides historical information about Hallowell’s granite industry, putting the artists’ work in context.

Fahy explained that the arts and culture committee will choose which sculptures will be on permanent display in the city, but committee members will factor the public vote into their decision.

“My goal is to have sculptures from Augusta to Gardiner someday,” she said. “There are some very nice sculptures around UMA, on the waterfront, in Gardiner, and also in Viles Arboretum. There are a bunch of things that have been done by similar (events) so it would be really fun for people to travel through the cities and go and visit them all.

Fahy suggested that guests stop for two or more days, rather than just one, so they can follow the progress of the sculptures.

“It’s all the fun,” she says, “to watch artists at work and to see their ideas, their vision emerge from the stone. It’s really cool and it’s not an opportunity that people get very often.

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