THE ANGEL'S STORY Chapter #11
But why Ballet? Why Dance? Why not Aardvarks? Well. You see, it’s like this. I can make a very credible Aardvark… A very fine Aardvark! But then, you see, I would have to find someone else, who is crazy about that Aardvark and has the money to pay for it. Market research shows, and I am quite certain of this…. that the Aardvark Market is quite limited. However, almost every one has a mother. Mothers with babies, kids, ballet, and female nudes…. Now that is the real market for sculpture! It always has been. There is no doubt about it. It has been that way, it seems, forever.
From the start, I was captivated by the rhythms and movements of life’s forms and quite naturally, the challenge and goal of sculpture would be to give to each figure that certain something which would gift the bronzes with an independent life, with implied movements and imagined souls. Why I was so hooked to this art form I don’t know. The best explanation is because it was fun!
Anything that moved was fascinating to me. Sports figures, Dancers, Animals, Flowers, and Trees even the Stars. You name it. But most especially, when I was short, I was in love with Ponies. I loved the way they moved. I loved what they looked like. I loved how they smelled, what they ate, their fears, their emotions and how they communicated with each other. I became quite proficient in their language and could speak “Pony” quite well. I loved every thing about them… Their winter coats … their summer coats and how it felt to the touch them. Daily my hands would cover every inch of their splendid bodies, tracing the shapes and forms to make sure every thing was as it should be. Then we would chew oats and lick salt blocks together. In short, we bonded. So much so, that when Daddy took Easy and me to visit the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, and I spied the magnificent Centaur on the ceiling. Well…. that image immediately changed my life as a 8 year old, and too, my childhood dreams. Dreams in which I Imagined myself as the mother of several little Centaurs, following close behind. Is this possible? Of course it is. Absolutely! I knew nothing about sex, let alone the word itself, but that did not matter, because in a child’s imagination…all things are possible!
Observation, careful observation is the key. Pony love and Pony care: The brushing and cleaning, riding and feeding would eventually become the best of teachers. Ponies like Aardvarks however, have a very limited market … The interest is there but it is limited not only in the numbers of sculpture one can sell, but also by the price caps imposed on the bronzes by the Sport’s Art Market…Deservedly or not, it is a reality that artists must deal with. However, and make note of this: There are no price caps in fine art!
It is possible however, to earn a living when sculpting horses but only if one can get into, one of the three specific circuits of the horse world. These are the Societies for Registered Arabians; Thoroughbreds on the flat track and the Western Cutting Horse. All three of these special categories, syndicate their stallions and sometimes their mares, for breeding. One of the perks of syndication is for each investor to receive a small bronze copy of the horse in which they have invested. In this way, a sculptor can sell twenty, thirty or perhaps fifty castings all at once and hope to make a little bit of profit.
Individual portraits are fine but they cost so much to produce in time and dollars that at the end of the commission, there is nothing left over and then, worst of all for the artist, nobody wants a portrait of some one else’s horse! They only want a portrait of their own horse! Working this way, the artist cannot sell more than one or possibly two bronze castings. This is also true for historical figures and war memorials, although there are some who have been able to sell small editions of their larger works. In order to get on board with one of these groups, the artists must be free to travel on the Horse Show circut,
Racing and Rodeo circuits, in order to meet and schmooze with the owners of these horses. With two children in tow, the subject of horses, or historical figures was out of the question. The other subjects from which one could hope to produce a living were those of the classics: Mothers; Babies; Kids; Ballet and Female Nudes. I chose dance.
THE ANGEL'S STORY Chapter #12
North Lake Avenue
On December 2,1949, Mummy and Daddy purchased the farm at 1016 (ten-sixteen) North Lake Avenue. Forlorn is the word, which comes to mind when I remember the first year on the farm. The first days were ragged and cold. Mostly I remember it being very cold. After the war, no one had very much money and oil heat was used sparingly. Not so with our fireplace. It was in constant use. There was plenty of wood to cut up and collect in the surrounding woods. Our circumstances were luxurious compared to our neighbors. We had a gas stove in the kitchen. Others did not have such a fine appliance. This put us in a very enviable position. Whenever the electricity went out, which seemed to be quite often, neighbors would rotate through every half hour or so, to open their cans of spaghetti and Spam and cook their dinners on the kitchen stove. The first winter at 1016 was spent repairing the house, and thawing out frozen water pipes. The fireplace leaked big time, so our Daddy set about building a new fireplace and chimney where the front door had been. Together, Mommy and Daddy tore down the room separations so that we would have one nice big living room on the first floor. Next, they purchased a collapsed house, just up the road, for $10.00 from the town of Greenwich. The deal was this. If they tore down the remainder of the house, they could have title to the lumber. This they did! The lumber and hand-hewn beams quickly became the new floors and supports for our new home.
During this period, life was cold. Life was a mess! There were pots and pans to catch the leaks every time it rained. Blankets were bunched up around the doors and windows to keep the winter winds at bay and we didn’t care! We danced about our house, bounding from one stuffed chair to another, all dressed up in Mom’s blue-netted tutus, which were worn over our sweaters and blue jeans!
Life at 1016 was full of adventures, most of which centered on ponies. Gossip had it that Playland Park, in Rye, New York, would give away their ponies for free to anyone who would feed them between September and May. In September 1950, two friendly little ponies came to live on the farm. One was named Tiny Tim and the other was named Peter Pan. Both ponies were about nine hands high, which is to say about thirty-six inches high at the shoulder. Peter Pan was adopted by my sister Easy and Tiny Tim was given to me. Peter was a light chestnut colored pony with a wide white blaze down the middle of his face. Tiny was midnight black with a small white star carefully placed on his forehead. Along with our ponies came the hard work and daily responsibilities of caring for them. Hard work, however, is made light with love and there was lots and lots of love. By springtime, we were deeply in love with our ponies and so came the tears. Return them to Playland Park? Never! Mummy and Daddy ended up buying the ponies away from Playland. (We children of course, had this carefully planned!) This was the beginning of our seventy-year love affair with ponies.
We adored our ponies and tried to include them in every facet of our lives. Photos of ponies were pasted up all over the house; even our socks had tiny ponies printed on them. Ponies adorned our schoolbook covers, our shoes and gloves and cocoa mugs … Anywhere a pony image could go, it did! We invented horse show games for us to play with each other and with our friends. The top half of us would be the rider and the bottom half would be the pony. With safety pins, pony tails made of wool, were fastened to the back of our blue jeans. We galloped around the house and out in the fields, pretending that we were real ponies. After all... there is very little difference between fantasy and reality when you are a child. Life for my sister and me was happy and dream filled even if it was very, very cold.
I had seen pictures of Circus ponies and in my mind our ponies were Circus ponies. I was forever dressing them up in different costumes with whatever I could find. Chicken feathers tied to their bridles transformed them into Indian Ponies while Mum’s old evening dresses made us into the fine ladies who rode cock horses through the streets of London. Sometimes I painted my pony’s hoofs with golden poster paint. Then he would be The Lone Ranger’s big white stallion even though he was small and coal black! “Hi-Ho-Silver” I whispered in his ear, and we were off to save the world from the bad guys! I taught him how to shake hands, nod his head to say Yes and No, do the Spanish walk and rear up on command. At the end of each performance, he would get down on his knees and take a bow.
So this is how life began at 1016. We were off to a good start. It was a half-mile walk to the bus in the morning and ten-degree temperatures were common. The lake behind the house stayed frozen from late November through the end of February. There was no mention of Global Warming. As I remember, the voices on the radio were telling us that we should prepare for a New Ice Age. It was coming for sure!