ISC – Seattle Sculpture Conference

Olympic Sculpture ParkThe sold out International Sculpture Conference concluded this past week. Inspired by the opening of the Olympic Sculpture Park, Sculpture in Public, Part I: Sculpture Parks and Gardens brought together artists, arts administrators and adviser’s, curators, patrons, city arts commissioners, architects, city planners, and museum directors for dialogues and networking events focused on issues related
to sculpture parks and gardens nationally and internationally, while incorporating many of the great art venues offered by Seattle and nearby Tacoma.

The conference began with a great overview of the construction and development of the Olympic Sculpture Park. Panelist Jon Shirley spoke about the vision for the park. Since his retirement as COO of Microsoft in 1990 Jon and his wife Mary have been active collectors and contemporary art activist. Started with a contaminated plot of land and the Shirley’s vision and funding the Olympic Sculpture Park (OSP) began. The Panel discussed the story of the park from concept 7 years ago to its opening in 2007. Other panelist were Lisa Corrin, Past curator of the park, Michael McCafferty, Director or design, and Chris Rogers, Director of capital projects. All were from the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) who owns and oversees the OSP.

One of the most exciting session was titled From Conception to Fruition : Outdoor Museums and Galleries. It was moderated by Brook Barrie,Grounds for Sculpture’s past Director. The discussion began with a presentation by David Collins, Director of Storm King. Followed by Glen Gentele Director of Laumeier Sculpture Park and Steve Nash founding Director of the Nasher Sculpture Center . The highlight however was from Ed Uhlir the Design Director on Millennium Park in Chicago. He highlighted the $23,000,000. Cloud Gate sculpture by Anish Kapoor. The 110-ton elliptical sculpture is forged of a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect the city’s famous skyline and the clouds above.

The keynote address delivered by Ned Rifkin, Under Secretary of Art, at the Smithsonian was the most disappointing presentation. This dynamic speaker changed his topic to Sculpture and the Blur, the definition of sculpture. It seemed an odd topic to be giving to sculpture professionals. We knew we were in for a long academic talk when the first slide was of Michelangelo’s David. With over 100 slides and a talk that ran past the allotted time on attendee commented “I felt like I was in an undergraduate intro class”

Overall the conference was well run with great pre and post conference activities. Looking forward to the Sculpture in Public, Part II: Sculpture Parks and Gardens which will be held at the Frederik Meijer Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, MI from October 2-4, 2008.

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