Saturday, December 16, 2006

a magical place

It's hard to understand how an concept such as E.T. Wickham's sculptures formed in his mind. Perhaps he'd heard of Fred Smith and the Concrete Park in Wisconsin.

E.T. was a contemporary of my grandfather and surely they knew each other. Both had the same level of education (6th grade or thereabouts) and both were farmers/carpenters. But E.T. embarked on a creative mission fraught with passion and difficulties and my grandfather was content to spend his later years chewing tobacco and devouring western dime novels.

E.T. Wickham sought to create a permanent statement on his view of history - in concrete. The statues were mounted on bases on which he wrote detailed descriptions. Historical figures he depicted included Patrick Henry, Estes Kefauver, Sgt. Alvin York and the Kennedy's. All the historical figures stood on one side of the road. His tiny cabin and the religious figures stood on the opposite side.

I know that in it's day the display was glorious in scope and scale. Since his death about 30 years ago, time and vandals have taken their toll. Even though those factors have created an unfortunate situation, the work as it currently exists is almost magical, mythical. Nature has reclaimed this place for herself. The large fatima atop a tall pole is intertwined with vines. The lambs of God at her feet are covered in a wooly coat of moss. It's sad and glorious and altogether meaningful in it's decay. It's layer upon layer - the evident beauty of the orginal work, the degradation by man and nature, all combining to create a haunting space.

Above is pictured the entrance to his place. Check the link to see historical photos of how this area originally appeared. In the days to follow I'll post other photos of his work which can be compared with to those on the sites devoted to his work.

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