John Henry Waddell
Sculptor, John Waddell presents
Thursday, December 10th 7:00PM
$6 advance, $8 at the door, $6 Seniors
John Waddell’s sculpture with photographs by Antoine Seronde
This Thursday evening you are invited to have a glimpse into the life, work and philosophy of one of the world’s great artists, John Henry Waddell. On December 10th, at 7 PM, the Old Town Center for the Arts will present the second in a new series of events entitled “Spice of Life.” This series is dedicated to engaging evenings with a wide range of people, organizations and topics. Beyond performance and art this series will provide a wide open forum, including a look into individuals whose life, work, and ideas offer rich opportunities for learning, inspiration, and interest.
For this special event renowned sculptor John Waddell will be joined by photographer Antoine Seronde to premier a series of slides that showcase Waddell’s latest work and a focus on the unique relationship between “Artist” and “Model.” Throughout a distinguished career, Mr. Waddell has created works of the unadorned human figure, which for him conveys the beauty of individual differences. John will feature one of his life size bronze figures for this event at OTCA. Many of the slides, photographed by Antoine Seronde, will document the sections of a magnificent sculptural relief work measuring 65’ wide by 40’ tall, entitled “Rising,” which has been years in the making. Antoine Seronde is a retired Anthropologist who has done several slide lectures relating to Nigeria and Egypt. He began working with John Waddell about 10 years ago, to photograph and document his creative process, this dialogue or dance between Sculptor and Model.
A resident of Cornville, John was born in Des Moines, Iowa. He has lived and studied in many places, including Mexico, Greece, and Illinois where he attended the Art Institute of Chicago. In those scattered places and in the Southwest, he has produced a body of work that is neither regional, nor stylized. His sculptures are in the tradition of figurative art that goes back to prehistoric times, and his art is highly representative of the individual. He holds two M.F.A.’s in Fine Arts and Art Education, and in 1957 he moved to Arizona to head the Art Department at Arizona State University (then Arizona State College). The 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed 4 young girls became a pivotal event in his development as an artist. He created a monument to this tragedy, entitled “That Which Might Have Been” that resides in the garden he designed for the Unitarian Universalist Church on Lincoln Drive in Phoenix. Other major installations of his bronze figures include “The Dance of Life,” at the Phoenix Civic Plaza’, and “Welcoming Muse, 1979,” at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, California. His sculptures have been featured throughout the U.S. and can be found closer to home at the Phoenix Art Museum, Herberger Theater in Phoenix , and the Sedona Cultural Park.
Waddell says that his work is about the psychological and sociological residues of man upon the earth. It is about the human form as a natural form that is distinct from the walls and corners of the city that make it difficult to see anything natural. In his relationship as Artist to the live Model, John accentuates the beauty of individual differences. This is plainly obvious with the quantity, and variety of body types present as you walk through his sculpture garden. When one poses for John, or is in his presence, one enjoys an intimate, close relationship, where the creative process becomes a dance.
Some have described John as a trickster or a sage. “I work best when I don’t think about it. The more I work, the greater the chance of getting something” John explains. When interviewed, the models he has worked with, mention the faces he makes as he works, and the great influence he has on their lives. During the past 30 years, John has had over 50 apprentices learning their craft.
John Waddell’s life has been filled with wonder and magic but also with the trials that come with losing everything in a devastating fire that consumed his studio and home in 1984, and the theft a decade ago that claimed some of his personal sculptures, which were senselessly melted down for their raw materials. Instead of becoming stuck, John was pushed further in his creative process.
John Waddell has created more life sized figures than the famous Rodin, and at 88 years old he is still working hard, currently on the 40 foot tall piece called “Rising”, that seems destined to become a monument at New York’s Ground Zero.
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