Art museum gets 2 additions to sculpture garden

Friday, May 3, 2019
Sculptor Jessie Cargas with "Galaxy."
Photo provided

Two additions have been made to the Friends of the Margaret Harwell Sculpture Garden.

The pieces will be recognized during a special reception from 6-8 p.m. May 17 at the museum.

The first is a piece called “Bobby-Soxer” by local sculptor Ralph Freer. It was originally created from wood and then fabricated in aluminum by another area resident, Lee Cotrell, said museum Director Steve Whitworth.

"Bobby Soxer" by Ralph Freer.
Photo provided

“It is a serious piece of sculpture but it is also fun,” Whitworth said of the tall blue figure. “It has great movement, and a very art deco flair to it.”

The second comes from sculptor Jessie Cargas as part of the Sculpture on the Move program started in St. Louis. Promoted by the Missouri Arts Council, it allows museums to rent sculptures for $500 a year, with a two-year minimum, and an option to buy the piece, Whitworth said.

“It’s a way of bringing fine art to the community in an affordable way,” Whitworth said.

Freer said he is happy to see his work added to a sculpture garden in his hometown.

“My initial concept for this art piece was to develop a free-form, stylized sculpture of a female dancing figure,” said Freer. “Starting with random pencil and paper sketches, I explored ways of capturing motion in a static, three-dimensional sculpture.”

Freer explained he began by constructing a small wooden model, then scaled the piece up to the desired size and made two additional wooden models.

One was selected to be fabricated in aluminum.

“Because of the transformation from wood to metal, minor adjustments were necessary,” said Freer. “These were approached in collaboration with Lee.”

The name, “Bobby-Soxer,” was drawn from the piece’s ponytail, Freer continued.

“My sculptural concept of a sassy and perky dancing female figure with a ponytail, the ubiquitous hair style of the 1940s and 1950s, reminded me of the fun-loving girls of the ‘Happy Days,’ era,” he said.

Freer has spent five decades developing art, which can be found in public and private collections in the U.S., Canada and Germany.

In an artist statement, Freer says his approach is straightforward and that the human figure is a reoccurring theme.

“The fascinating complexities of the human form inspire endless combinations of shapes and forms,” he said. “I explore these combinations juxtaposing organic forms with geometric curvilinear shapes.”

Cargas was born in St. Louis, and uses steel finished with polyurethane, paint, patina or powder coat.

Her pieces begin with a vision, a design, then are drawn, cut, sanded, shaped, rolled, and/or welded, then finished, Cargas explained in an artist’s statement.

“Inspirations come from within and daily experiences. My sculptures represent what is real and what is conceptual. I continue to work on a variety of shapes, sizes, contemporary and abstract pieces,” she said. “From creating designs, to welding, to the finishes on the sculptures, are the things that keep me most inspired, motivated and driven.”

The MHAM sculpture garden is open daily from dawn to dusk, Whitworth said. It includes about a dozen pieces that help extend the museum’s reach outside, he said.

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