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Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Captain's Sculpture, parts 112 - 115


 112. After class ended on the following Saturday I put this question to her. “Mrs. Festini,” I said, is it legal for me to cast these manhole covers, and say it is a sculpture that I created.


113. Because I never created the shapes in the first place, and I could never have designed anything like it, even if my life depended on it.”


114. What I got out of Mrs. Festini, bless her soul, was a lecture about Pop Art, and the works of Andy Warhol. I am not going to repeat all that she said, because I realize by now that this idea is very well know about, and I am sure you have heard all about it.


115. Warhol did not design any soup cans, but she explained how he “made us seen things like labels in a new way”, and that is why it was art.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Captain's Sculpture, parts 108 - 111

108. Did some sculptor years ago design the corner mailbox, or the cast iron street lamp?


 109. Well, they did not design themselves now did they? Someone must have done it, but all those things have never seemed important enough to anyone for any inquiry to be made into who created the shapes in the first place.


 
110. For me it was an important consideration, and I made up my mind to ask Mrs. Festini about it was soon as possible, but meanwhile, what was I to do about the discovery that the Captain’s sculpture was a copy, for which he was taking full credit.


111. Obviously it was none of my business, so I decided to say nothing about it to Mrs. Festini or anyone else.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Captain's Sculpture, parts 104 - 107

104. “But,” I thought, “What about my casting of the manhole covers, wasn’t I also a forger?” What a terrible quandary I found myself in all of a sudden.


105. I pictured to myself the person who had so painstakingly crafted the original wood mold for the cast iron manhole cover. I could see him now, in my minds eye, complaining to the police about my doings, complaining to the Captain of the police himself, and his crew in the sculpture studio.


 
106. What I was doing was even worse that what the Captain was doing, because I wasn’t crafting a copy of the thing, but simply casting it directly from life, and calling the cast a work of art, created by yours truly, Richard Bartlesby, retired postal clerk, and forger of man-hole covers.


107. I knew for a fact that whomever had created the manhole covers was probably long dead, and besides, has anyone ever seen an artist’s signature on any of these millions of utilitarian metal objects we are surrounded by everywhere?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Captain's Sculpture, parts 100 - 103

 100. I was in a gift store looking at the figurines of the sort my mother hated, and that I had smashed so many years ago, and on a shelf among them was the Captain’s sculpture, cast in plaster, but painted to look like bronze. It was the exact same figure, the same size and the same details.


101. The work that the Captain was bringing to class each week, and working on at home with feverish diligence was a forgery.


102. How he was managing to duplicate it so perfectly I had no idea, and I certainly could never have done such a masterful copy of the thing no matter how hard I might have tried.


103. Apparently, he had found a piece of sculpture he greatly admired, purchased it, and was completely absorbed in duplicating it. I am quite positive it would have never crossed his mind that he as forging something, and that it might even be against the law.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Captain's Sculpture, parts 96 - 99


96. Can a work of art be too good, can something modeled in clay be too perfect, so perfect indeed that you can hardly resist the impulse to fling the thing right down onto the cement floor of the studio room.


97. One thing is for certain, I could not have done anything even remotely as good as the Captain’s sculpture, I would not have even ventured to try.


 98. I continued with my castings of metal street covers, and although the other students admired them, I had the distinct feeling that they thought it was all a kind of pointless gimmick.


99. Then something happened that altered the entire situation and put me in a terrible predicament. I will tell you what this problem was, and I wonder what you would have done if you found yourself in a similar situation.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Captain's Sculpture, parts 92 - 95



92. Perhaps that explains my predicament, having set out to make a confession, I keep finding ways to avoid it. I could go back and begin again, but before I do, I have just a few more things to say about the Captain, and his sculpture.


93. A discussion of the Captain’s wonderful sculpture now became a regular part of our Saturday afternoon sculpture class at the museum.


94. I am not going to say I was jealous of all the attention Mrs. Festini was giving to her star pupil, but certainly something bothered me about the situation.


95. First of all, I have to say that I very much disliked his model of some deer with antlers standing majestically on the top of a hill and looking over his shoulder. I have no words that can convey my aversion for the thing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Captain's Sculpture, parts 88 - 91

88. I got hardly two sentences into that story when, for some unknown reason, I began to tell you about the policemen and their sculptures.


89. From there I began to tell you about the Captain’s sculpture, and after that I began this account of the figurines in my mother’s house that I destroyed as I child.


90. It seems I am hardly likely to finish any one of these little stories, and why, do you suppose I am wandering off like this, it must be that I am trying to avoid my first stated purpose.


91. Thinking back on it now, I recall the first words of this story which were, “Why is it, I ask you, that a moment comes when we are suddenly overcome by this desire to tell our friends an account of something that has happened to us in the past, in an effort to illustrate just how stupid and naive we have been.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Captain's Sculpture, parts 84 - 87


84. I am very tempted to begin talking about the significance of a person awarding some object they despise a prominent place in their home for an entire lifetime simply out of a sense of obligation.


85. It would be easy to see in this situation a microcosm of a great many events and actions that might dissolve down to this simple explanation.


86. It could be offered as the justification for going to a certain college, or choosing an occupation, it could be the basis of a marriage. But I had better not begin to expound on this idea and here is why.


87. I set out many days ago to tell you the story of my first exhibition, and how that exhibition ruined my life, made me bankrupt, and destroyed my marriage.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Captain's Sculpture, parts 80 - 83


80. The price of everything was such an overwhelming factor that this alone explains why I would assume that my mother had no taste in things.


 
81. Once my mother said that she hated the figurines she had lived with for twenty years, I began to remember my visits to Aunt Lucille’s house in a new light. From the shower curtain in the bathroom to the silver Christmas tree in December, nothing in their rooms could have ever found a place in my mothers house.


 
82. Now that Aunt Lucille was dead, she could finally get rid of it.


 
 83. So, the only sculpture in my childhood home was a thing my mother hated, but kept for years on a shelf out of a feeling of obligation.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Captain's Sculpture, parts 76 - 79

76. It turned out that my mother had a sort of specific aesthetic sense, an aesthetic sense of her own, not one handed down to her by accident because of a family history, or an aesthetic sense arrived at completely by accident, which would be the opposite of any personal aesthetic.


 
77. My mother’s ‘taste” in things like furniture, paintings, figurines, silverware and dishes and the like was circumscribed and controlled by so many extraneous factors that you have to excuse me for assuming that she had no taste at all.


78. Foremost was the question of cost. If there were plates in the kitchen cupboard they were there because they were plates we could afford, this was the first consideration.


79. In the living room there was a better set of dishes in a hutch for use when we had guests on a Sunday afternoon for dinner, but the form and quality of both the hutch and the dishes was determined by cost.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Captain's Sculpture, parts 72 - 75



72. Finally, twenty years later, the shepherdess also disappeared. It was then that I was finally forced to question my Mother about the figurines. She said:


73. After you broke the plaster shepherd, I did not know what to do. I really wanted to throw the shepherdess out also but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
  

74. The two figures were a wedding gift from your Aunt Lucille, and I have always hated them. Aunt Lucille, and Uncle Carmen’s living room is full of hundreds of those things on little stands shelves and tables, and I can hardly stand to go over there because of it.


 
75. But your father insisted, and so I put them on the window ledge by the front door, where if they stopped by unexpectedly, like they always did back then, they would see them.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Captains' Sculpture, parts 68 - 71


 68. Then I took the remaining figure and placed it exactly in the center of the windowsill. After positioning the figure as one would any single object in such a situation, I went across the room and viewed my arrangement from a distance, and wondered to myself, it this simple trick, so obvious and yet subtle in its own way, would suffice to deceive my Mother, that nothing had changed in the house whatsoever.



 
69. My solution to this disaster was a complete success. The lonely shepherdess remained on the windowsill while I finished grade school, struggled through high School, and finally went to college, and in all those years of my childhood my Mother never ventured to ask the simple question, “What ever became of the plaster shepherd?”


70. I never brought up the question myself, but I certainly wondered about it.


 
71. Various explanations occurred to me in the silent void this event created. The disappearance of the shepherd happened, ironically, about the same time that my father disappeared.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Captain's Sculpture, parts 64 - 67


64. The shepherd was now dead, never again would he look longingly at the Shepherdess eighteen inches away. What she thought about this, and how she felt about becoming so suddenly a widow, I have on idea.

65. My mother was not at home when this disaster befell our home. Although I had never looked at or thought about the figurines on the staircase, nevertheless, in the back of my mind was a basic assumption; the objects in question were valuable and prized possessions of my family which I had stupidly half destroyed. 

66. But the remaining half was obviously less than useless. Suddenly a solution jumped into my head, a childish solution as you will see, but the only thing a ten year old in a dire predicament might hit upon.

 67. My solution did not include any attempt to put the figure back together, quite the contrary, I cleaned up all the pieces and threw them into the garbage can at the back of the house where they would not be discovered, even by an accident.