Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Local artist creates sculpture for the Beacon Hill area
Web Posted: 06/11/2007 04:49 PM CDT
Express-News Staff Writer
Danville Chadbourne stands among hundreds of finished sculptures in his Beacon Hill art studio and shakes his head at the thoughts of a public art project he recently completed.
"It took a long, long time," he said. "It turned out to be a very difficult project."
Chadbourne recently completed a sculpture commissioned by the Beacon Hill Area Neighborhood Association, which was funded by a grant from the city of San Antonio. The project was supposed to be simple and fairly quick, he said, but a series of hiccups led to a reconstruction of a portion of the sculpture.
The bronze, cast-concrete and stonework organic-form sculpture stands 12 feet tall on a small space at the intersection of Fredericksburg Road, Michigan Avenue and French Place. Chadbourne calls it "Mysterious Conjunction — The Great Myth of Transformation." The artist was selected from a field of his peers who all submitted proposals several years ago to the neighborhood association, which had received a grant from the city of San Antonio to fund the artwork.
"It was a relatively simple sort of piece," he said, adding that it's not figurative. Rather, it alludes to mythic states and primal forms, Chadbourne said.
"I'm interested in things that transcend their time."
A former college art professor who gave up teaching almost two decades ago to pursue art full time, Chadbourne said he sketched his idea and created a few clay models for his proposal. The finished product, he said, largely resembles what he'd proposed.
The sculpture is topped with a bronze piece that looks like an inverted star. Beneath the bronze piece sit three cylindrical tinted concrete blocks that grow in height and diameter as they go down. The bottom half of the piece is a cylinder composed of local limestone and red stone that he collected from his father's farm on the Brazos River near Bryan-College Station.
"It was a little hidden detail that represents where I'm from," Chadbourne said.
But save the red rock, the rest of the sculpture was inspired by neighborhood elements, he said. The limestone is a common building material in the area, the colors mirror those found in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, and the inverted star piece was inspired by the remnants of a sculpture in the nearby San Pedro Park.
"(The piece) is part of the physical texture of the neighborhood," he said. "This is a monument to ideas coming together."
Debbie Huerta, a neighborhood association officer, said she's glad to see the piece completed.
"It's some thing that has been long-awaited and it's really great," she said. "It's a great asset for the neighborhood."
Huerta said the piece is a testament to the diversity and the identity of the neighborhood.
"Danville tried to tie in the coloring and the material that help identify our area," she said. "It shows that we have a lot of diverse people with great imagination. The sculpture is really amazing."
Chadbourne's studio is housed in an old grocery store on the corner of Summit and Grant avenues. Chadbourne also lives there with his wife in a small apartment they carved out of the back of the building, he says, where the grocery store's refrigerators used to be. They also own the house next door, which is used for additional storage space. And, most of the back yard is consumed by outdoor sculptures in various stages of completion. Chadbourne says he typically is working on as many as 100 pieces at a time, and some take as many as 10 years to complete.
"I've been here a long, long time," he said. "But I'm running out of space."
Chadbourne and his wife, Diana Roberts, consider their small living space a gallery of sorts. They currently have several pieces of African art on display, but that's soon to change, he said. During a recent trip to India, Chadbourne acquired a new collection of art. Their apartment is largely filled with shelves of CDs, records, films and books. Lots and lots of books.
"It's easy to get lost in here," he said of his veritable private library. "There are days I'll just stay in here and read."
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