From the Heart

From the Heart

Immediately after the conference in China was finished I flew to Russia to participate in the first symposium held in the city of Penza. This symposium was the beginning of Legends sculpture park that is now the second largest in the world and one of the 10 must see attractions in all of Russia. Each year 50 artists are sponsored, the resulting artworks are placed in the park around the lake at Christie Prudie, a retreat just outside of Penza.


It’s a 12 hour bus ride to Penza from Moscow and all of the artists didn’t arrive at the same time so I had time to see some sights. The Moscow Museum of Fine Art has one of the original casts of “The Thinker” by Rodin. It was really cool to see this famous sculpture in person.

Participants could choose stone or wood in this symposium.

My tools got lost on the way here and didn’t arrive for about 1 ½ weeks. That put me quite a ways behind but I had a chance to kind of be a tourist while waiting. I assisted several sculptors by just cleaning up at their work stations and actually getting my hands on the tools and helping some to carve. Here I’m posing with Barbara from Poland and her assistant from the arts program at Penza University, I helped her for a week or so. As Penza was nearby I also took the opportunity to take a taxi to town a couple of times and do a little shopping, I came home with new tools!!

Several nights a week we were treated to entertainment after supper, on the others we made our own.

The kids had a great time and took entertaining an international crowd very seriously. We really appreciated their talent and enthusiasm.

An activity that was a lot of fun was the impromptu performances after supper. If you were handed the magical cognac bottle stopper you had to sing a folk song from your country. Some people were a little hesitant but got shamed into it and received big applause for their bravery.

There was a drum kit and some instruments in the dining room, on nights that there was no entertainment or after they had left it was common for some of the sculptors to take up the instruments and play for a while. Dancing and singing along was, of course, always included.

After my tools finally arrived I had to get to work in earnest. I loaded one of my logs into a taxi and headed out to the factory where it was arranged for me to do the turning portion of my work. It turned out that my log was just too much out of balance to turn, it was literally shaking the lathe around the room so we put it on a machine that is made just for the job of making logs round. The lathe wasn’t long enough for the whole log so it was cut in sections, I turned each section and then assembled it back at the symposium site. I worked at the factory for two days and ate simple meals at lunch time. All of the guys there were really nice to me and curious about what the heck I was doing. They came out to Christie Prudie to see the finished sculpture after it was done.

When I got it to the work site I carved the head of the man and the baby in the lady’s belly. After that the log that was the lower half of the sculpture had to be carved.

Beveling the outline of the negative space made it stand out better. I could have cut the negative space right through and maybe would have looked better, my thinking at the time was that creating a cavity would make the illusion of having removed the figure from the bottom log a little more interesting. The title of the sculpture is “From the Heart”. It has dual meaning; that the figures on top were removed from the heart of the log at the bottom and secondly the love of family that is represented by the figures on top.

So many beautiful sculptures were realized I can’t show pictures of all of them but here are a few examples.

Chander Parkash, India

Marcia DeBernardo, Brazil

Bieta Rostas, Hungary

Emil Adamec, Austria

I was the last to complete, they actually sent a taxi to the site for me so that I would make it back to the hotel in time for the closing ceremony. It was touch and go but I did alright considering I started a week and a half late.

This sculpture demonstrates that a man supports his family and presents the illusion that the figures were taken from the heart of the lower log and placed on top. I painted the baby blue which is such a prevalent color in Russia and, of course, the color of the sky. Gold foil is used on the face of the man to provide contrast.

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