Richard Taylor, Beasties, West Allis Iron
Judith Ann again ponders lawn ornaments, high-brow and not-so-high-brow.
June was a battle of Barrett vs. Walker yard signs. As I write (having voted at the Charles Allis Art Museum on Prospect Avenue), I’m reminded whether they’re signs or r sculptures in public or private spaces, they signal choices. In November of 2011, I wrote a feature detailing the struggle to reunite six sculptures by Wisconsin artist Richard Taylor. They were destined to find new life in Wauwatosa’s Hart Park. In tandem with architect Edward Haydin of Engberg Anderson (he designed the park’s splash pad and interpretive playground), the two visionaries saw it come to fruition on June 4-5, when Taylor’s sculptures were installed.
Naturally, I felt compelled to ask if monies had been put aside for the maintenance of Taylor’s towering aluminum beauties. I touched on this problem in an earlier Yard Guards piece, for it seems that many of our public sculptures are left in the lurch when it comes to maintaining their original glory. Taylor completely refinished his six, and they’ll allegedly be okay for the next 20 years. But no monies were put in escrow to ensure their care. Meanwhile,
he’s working on his tallest (20’ plus) sculpture to date, a commission for the 25th anniversary of First Stage Theater. He told me that “a lot of doing ” is going into the piece: design, engineering, contracting, fabrication and installation, not to mention getting it to the MYAC at 3rd and Walnut. It should be installed at the end of July He says it’s hot in the studio where he is welding the parts destined to become an aluminum masterpiece painted white and incorporating a bench at the base, so folks can sit and chat. Various words from FST alumni will pull it all together.
As for architect Haydin, he says his kids no longer need room to run around in, and he’s currently musing about the possibility of a sculpture for his yard.
What drives people to fill empty spaces? People mark their places in history with Indian mounds, pyramids, etc. I guess fiberglass cows and lunging muskies serve a historical purpose too, though art snobs might not agree. I’m a Beastie-hater and wouldn’t want one. Still, it’s not so bad to peek over the hedge rimming the garden at the Charles Allis Art Museum and spot the tall, yellow very first Beastie (a giraffe in shape) ever made by artist Dennis Pearson. Its home for many years was been the Milwaukee Art Museum, which gives it rather heavy credentials. Several other artful yard guards keep the Beastie company, and they’re all part of the current “Gardens: Inside and Out” exhibition.
But on the simpler side, here’s a yard guard by artist Tom Kovacich. It stands in his West Allis yard, a reminder of the industrial glory that once upon a time defined that area. No whimsy, just metal.