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Art Is All Around Us (1980)

Art Is All Around Us (1980)


(gentle string music) – [Narrator] In all the world there is only one Kalamazoo. From the air this Michigan community looks like hundreds of other
small cities in America, and yet if we look more closely, we might be surprised to find
that art is all around us. Bronson Park is the center of the city and is central to the
history of the community. Works of art are in the
park, next to the park, or nearby. (gentle string music) The Arts Center across from the park is one of the centers of public art. Art Center librarian Helen Sheridan talks about one of its sculptures. – This is a sculpture by Jerald Jaquard titled The Passing of Colored Volume. It was completed in 1968 and its material is
3/8 inch aluminum alloy and it’s covered with red acrylic paint. (guitar music) It’s handsome with this
marvelous sensuous red and it’s meant to be
admired from a distance. This is important to the Arts Center because it completes the
group of outdoor sculptures by former Arts Center instructors. We have a Dwayne Lowder,
Kirk Newman, a George Rickey, and now we have a Jerald Jaquard. – [Narrator] Inside the
Arts Center is a mobile by Alexander Calder. Calder is known as the first
artist to make sculpture move. He said, “just as one can
compose colors or forms, one can compose motions.” Four Lines Oblique by former Arts Center
director George Rickey is another sculpture that moves. Rickey explains. – [George Rickey] Line Movement,
with very few exceptions, is powered by gently moving air pressing against the surfaces
which are often quite slender. The essentials were a y shaped chassis, on which I mounted
four 15 foot long blades, rotating freely in parallel planes through 360 degrees and coming to rest with an upward slant so that the arms of the y and the blades,
without wind, enclose a square, and four squares within that square. – [Narrator] Nearby at the Arts Center is another type of sculpture, this one appropriately
called People by Kirk Newman. – None of these are specific people but they certainly are like
many people that we know. I think every figure here has been based on some
recollection of mine concerning events and people. I like this intimacy here. I like this hat this man has on. It’s really a symbolic paper hat. This is a party time. In this particular piece,
this man has a mask on. It’s a very strange kind of thing, but it’s a symbol to me
as a mask that we all wear so much of the time. This small bird on this man’s finger. And of course this is kind
of a small private pun also. This lady, this lady is,
you know she’s really impressing this guy and
he’s a little surprised. They have to do with small
social intimate contacts and they’re true really at
nearly all social events that I’ve ever come in contact with. – [Narrator] Dwayne Lowder, in his studio, tells where he got his ideas
for this bronze sculpture in the Arts Center courtyard. – [Dwayne Lowder] The piece at the Arts Center was initially executed in wood and I think approximately in 1968. The concept for the piece
was based on Greek mythology. Always having been interested in dreams, I discovered that, when
I was reading one day, that Cadmus had a dream in
which Apollo visited him and apparently told him
that he would become King of Thebes. And I thought that might be kind of an interesting juxtaposition of an Apollo-like form to a reclining or a semi-reclining form. And so the piece at the Arts Center is based partly on that semi-reclining, semi-elevated form that
I think being in sleep or being near awakeness is like. It was a dream piece, or a part of it was, and then some parts developed as the idea began to be worked on. – [Narrator] Carol Harrison has a
sculpture called Seated Woman at the Arts Center, as well
as two other public works of art in Kalamazoo, one on the Western
Michigan University campus, where she was an instructor. – [Carol Harrison] The Three Figures
was completed in 1972. It was commissioned for
the Fine Arts complex. And it happened that at that time I had two other pieces
I was also working on, one which is a seated figure for the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and the other which is a fountain for the Steinman Realty Company. They were sort of working together. In other words, all three
pieces were fairly well related. The piece at the Art
Institute is a cast piece. I cut into three sections,
made three separate molds with Roman joints, poured
the three sections, and then Roman jointed
and welded them together. So the piece at the center,
to many people may appear to be a welded piece but in fact, it’s cast and done from sheet wax, whereas the sculpture for the university was done from sheet metal and welded, and of course the seaming to me, the beading of the seams,
was very important to me in terms of its, not only its
physical visual structure, but in terms of the aesthetic content. – [Narrator] Another sculpture on the Western campus is a disc shaped work by a
former art department instructor. Helen Sheridan gives its background. – This piece is a cast drawn sculpture by Gerald Dumlao It was completed in 1971. The sculpture has a vitality. It has presence. It’s very handsomely situated on the top of this incline
so that one approaches it from the stairs. Its orientation east and west reinforces the notion of the sun disc. There’s a reflective
character to the bronze itself so that it catches the light of the sun as it comes up in the east
and as it sets in the west in the late afternoon. I think one can look at this sculpture and simply enjoy it for what it is. – [Narrator] Over on the
Kalamazoo College campus in Wells Hall there is
an interesting mural about Kalamazoo which professor
Walter Warring describes. – This is a painting by Philip Evergood painted during 1940 to 1942. But it’s called The Bridge of Life. What it does, it fascinates me so much, is that it’s the one picture
that Evergood ever painted that shows a community pull. It puts the community
together in an unbroken ring. You’ll notice in the picture that you have the paper industry represented. You have the pharmaceutical. You have the laborers that do the stove. You’ll find that
agriculture is represented across the picture. The tulip growers, the tulip
bulbs, Kalamazoo celery represented in the central background. Education is represented. The athletics, the sports are represented. While Philip Evergood
painted this picture, he had advice from
almost the entire campus. The interesting thing about the picture is that the art students
from the art department helped Philip Evergood block
in some of the painting and they were quite free
with their advice too. So he had to defend almost
every portion of the picture. – [Narrator] Back in downtown
Kalamazoo stands a building that has served as a railroad
station since the 1880s. Historian John Hodeck. – This building was begun in
1886 and finished in 1887. And it represents more
than just a building. In this case, a number of
towns and cities in Michigan were building impressive railroad stations and Kalamazoo entered the
race with this building, constructed in the Romanesque style made so very popular by Henry Richardson with the heavy, massive arches, the overhanging roof, the
combination of brick and stone. – [Narrator] Another
historic Kalamazoo building is located on South Street. Historian Peter Schmidt
talks about its significance. – In the early 1970s Kalamazoo established the South Street Historic District, recognizing what has to be one
of the most unique examples of historical architecture
in the United States. A half a dozen separate and
distinct building styles representing the tastes of
popular American culture from the 1840s right on down into the early part of the 20th century. This house, the Frank
Little house we call it in the Historic District, is one of those unique
architectural treasures. It’s important partly
because it seems to be the oldest house in the
village of Kalamazoo that’s still on its foundation, still just about the way it was when the masons finished
their brick work back in 1847. This house is significant not just because it’s the oldest house, but also
because it’s representative of an architectural style that reigned all across America in the
decades before the civil war. – [Narrator] In Bronson Park stands a soldier and a case of mistaken identity. Cesta Peakstock, the producer of the film, talks about it. – For 50 years, credit
for creating this statue was given to the wrong person. It seems that when the
Spanish-American War veterans were raising money to buy this statue there was a mix up and credit was given to the wrong sculptor, a man whose name was Allen George Newman. But then in 1974 another name was found on the heel of one of the boots. That name was Theo AR Kitson. On the other boot was found
the name of the foundry that had cast this statue into bronze more than 50 years before. That company was contacted
and a letter came back saying that yes, this statue
had been made by a woman whose name was Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson. So 50 years after this
statue was placed here in Bronson Park on Memorial Day 1924, the case of mistaken identity was solved. – [Narrator] Nearby in
the park is the older of Bronson Park’s two fountains. Again, Cesta Peakstock. – This sculpture has been here since 1940. The fountain part itself has
been in the park since 1927. It was the third electric
fountain the United States and the first totally
automatic electric fountain. So in 1935 the Kalamazoo Business and
Professional Women’s Club decided to sponsor a
nationwide competition for a sculpture to go with
Bronson Park’s fountain. That competition was won by
a young woman in Chicago. She was a student in the
studio of Alfonso Ianneli, who was one of America’s
great architectural sculptors. But ultimately Alfonso Ianneli himself designed this sculpture that you see. He said that the fountain conveys the advance of the pioneers in
the generations that follow, while the Indian is shown in the posture of noble resistance, yet being absorbed as
the white man advances. – [Narrator] On the South side of the park is Kalamazoo City Hall. Peter Schmidt discusses this example of architecture from the 1930s. – The lines are simple, partly classic. The columns or the end
of columns that you see at the doorway there
remind us a little bit of the depths that people
hold still to the past, to the world of Greece and Rome. But as you look at the ornament, perhaps on the interior as you
look at the elevator doors, the ornamental treatment
of the mail shoot, the clock in the foyer, anyone who moves into the
interior of a building like this has a special treat looking up in the foyer, the lobby area, looking
at any of the fresco work or any of the ornamental
metal work in the building. And that ornament is a kind of blending of what we used to call Art Nouveau, an ornamental pattern
which derives inspiration from natural foliage,
from floral patterns. Most notable probably of
the ornamental features are the light fixtures in the lobby. Unlike the earlier light fixtures it might have looked like dancing maidens. It might have looked
like great orchid ferns. These look most like skyscrapers. While this building in 1931 was as modern as anything might be,
it still retained enough of the classical inspiration so that if you look just
below the line of the roof you’ll see what in ancient days would have been the tablature
on top of the temple, wherein the ancient carvers would have placed the heroic carvings, of all relief statues
important to their time. So now in 1931 the city fathers decided that they would incorporate
into the entablature here in City Hall the historic
moments of Kalamazoo’s past. – [Narrator] Back inside the
ornate City Commission Chamber was painted by an artist
who also decorated another building in downtown Kalamazoo. Bertha Stauffenberg tells
about him and his work. – My husband, Adal Stauffenberg, he was born in Hamburg Germany in 1888 and was about 35 when he did this. King Tut’s tomb had been
opened shortly before and the design was very
much in fashion at that time was taken from the Egyptian designs. And some of these you’ll see will be the design of
the top of the columns that they had in the Egyptian temple. And the very frontal pose of the figure shows some Egyptian influence and that of course was the art deco style that was really the high
fashion at that point. He prided himself on both
this and the National Bank. Where my husband, Adal Stauffenberg decorated
the vaulted ceiling in 1929, the design is more flowing than his design in the city hall. That one has more angles but this one still has the art deco motifs and it has the soft and flat color that he used a great deal. He said when you put a little of your soul into each of your paintings
it will live beyond you. – [Narrator] Outside, around
the downtown Kalamazoo Mall are a number of wall murals. The first one was painted by John Metheany – The wall was picked out by the downtown Kalamazoo merchants. The wall had a pretty bad surface on it and the problem was to
beautify it in some way, could something be done with this wall? For instance, a mural painted on it? I figured out how much
the paint would cost. We selected a design and started to work. The surface of the brick
on all these old buildings is hard to paint on so that limits the kind of a design you can use. To enlist the aid of local
artists I devised an idea. I said we’ll make a competition so that nobody will make a lot of money and it will still be a public
spirited kind of a thing. Originally when we were in this
contest, the mural contest, I did a lot of research on ancient art, like Egyptian wall paintings,
ancient Greek frescoes, a lot of different types of mosaics. And I based all my ideas loosely on an Egyptian wall painting. So we got many designs and
the first prize on each wall was of course the privilege
of executing the mural. And it went off very nicely. I wanted it to sort of
blend in with the city, not be completely obscure, not be hidden, but not be startling. – This is not gallery art. This isn’t something you put
up and say what does it mean? Is it some message of life? It’s not an advertisement. It’s public art. It’s something that
everybody can appreciate. It’s the kind of thing that
artists and students of art, amateurs and local people,
can get involved in because it takes the art out
of the museum and the studio and puts the artist right on
the street with the people. It’s a very public kind of art and it gives not only
the artist but the public quite a chance to relate to
art in a very fundamental way. – [Narrator] In Bronson Hospital there’s a different type of wall, a sculpted one by Kirk Newman. – Part of my consideration for it was that it be made of materials like the materials that were being used are the same materials being used in the hospital construction. I felt that it should be cheerful and that it should be
contemporary in its ideas. This is like a cross section
of a small piece of matter. It also refers to shapes
that you might see if you were in a space capsule
looking back at the earth. – [Narrator] A few blocks
away there’s a building called Carver Center, designed by architect
Norman Carver Junior. He was asked about the name similarity. – No, the name was somewhat
of a surprise to me and it is not named after
me but after my father. And I think it’s kind of nice that I was able to design the building and have it named after him. He was the manager of
the Civic Auditorium, which owns this building and
had been the first manager and the only manager for some 30 years and therefore they named it after him as a kind of memorial. One of the interesting
things is the core mark in the concrete structure. And to contrast with
this we used the brick. We used a particularly
handmade kind of brick in a very soft color. And then we used these concrete blocks to create a little pattern. – [Narrator] At the
Kalamazoo Public Library in the children’s room
are a couple of sculptures the young people enjoy. They’re a turtle and a snail sculpted by former Arts Center
staff member James Stark and cast at the Richmond Foundry. In the Library’s main reading room civil rights leader Martin
Luther King is memorialized in a bust by Kirk Newman. And one of Newman’s latest works was commissioned for the
nation’s bicentennial and dedicated in Bronson
Park on July 4th, 1976. – This was a project of
the churches in Kalamazoo. We’ve got nine children taken from various walks of
life in the Kalamazoo area and one large monolithic
figure down at the far end, representing man’s efforts
to live on this earth. The green color is a natural patina. All bronzes become this color and when they’re exposed
to the natural element. Basic reason for using children is that somehow they seem more symbolic of the hope for the
future for many people, from many backgrounds. – [Narrator] Many people
from many backgrounds formed this community. Join with us in celebration of the art that’s all around us in Kalamazoo. (lively music)

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