February 19th Chris and I headed over to the Main Gallery at the Downtown Library to see the unveiling of the 6th colossal portrait head in a series sculpted by Alan LeQuire.
The first five heads are of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Lead Belly, Paul Robeson and Woody Guthrie. Giant size -- (no seriously, they are enormous!) -- what was also striking to me was looking at each of them in turn and enjoying the specific sculpting of each. They are not all rendered in the same way, so the details of the sculpting work itself is captivating. The 6th head was placed at the end of the gallery, covered with a large, beautiful piece of fabric and tassel. Intriguingly hidden until it was time ... And it's one thing to see them, but a whole new other thing to listen to Mr. LeQuire explain what motivated him to create this colossal head series, which he calls "Cultural Heroes" and why these folks are important people to him (and should be to us all) and why he wanted to memorialize them in this particular way.
When LeQuire finished his intro, his little daughter Acadia pulled the drapery off the 6th head, and we saw the sculpture of singer Marion Anderson.
The audience just gasped.
What a reaction! It was thrilling! But how could we not react that way? Looking at her you'd swear she was in mid song, on the moment of the intake of breath, and that music was just going to burst out of her mouth any second. It was breathtaking. And impressive how the moment was so powerfully captured. (And if you've ever sung a song with any heart at all, you intimately know that moment from the singing POV. WOW!) It was amazing.
The Cultural Heroes: Sculpture By Alan LeQuire exhibit will continue through May 31. There will be several more programs involving this exhibit, including a talk & slideshow by Mr. LeQuire on Sat. March 21rst, a sculpture demo he will do on Saturday April 18th, and a Walking Tour of his artwork, starting at the Library's front doors on Saturday, May 9th.
I also highly recommend Mr. LeQuire's Atelier classes, which begin again at the LeQuire studio, this Thursday, March 5th at 5:30pm.