Hope, love and nature's triumph 

Michael C. Hall Leap of Faith Sculpture Exhibition and Alvin E. Begaye Watercolor Lithographic Fund-raiser
Bona Thompson Memorial Center
Irvington Historical Society

Gracing the lawn of the Bona Thompson Memorial Center are four carved limestone sculptures by Michael C. Hall. Let’s hope this display is a sign of the start of outdoor, public art in the Irvington community, which has a rich history and the potential to be the next cultural district in Indianapolis. Hall’s limestone pieces successfully contrast and complement the stoic, smooth limestone columns of the Neo-Classical Revival Bona Thompson building.

Hope, love and nature’s triumph are the themes of Hall’s exhibition. Seven carvings — three are inside the center — metaphorically address spirit and determination. Standing up to 5 feet tall, the totemic works are biomorphic abstractions filled with imagery — leaves, turtles, flowers, dragonflies — and symbolic features. The bird-like “Flowers of Time” demonstrates the emblematic, decorative surfaces characteristic of Hall’s works. Meanings are highlighted by poetic descriptions written for each piece. “Cardinal of Love” expresses an innocent sweetness difficult to achieve with limestone’s solemn architectural associations. The two-sided figural form has arms wrapped around a smooth rabbit on one façade and an etched cardinal on the other. A poem — “Time to hear the voice of Nature and to protect Her earthly presence” — is a call for environmental action.

Henry Moore, a famous and more formal stone sculptor, shared Hall’s love of nature, abstraction and primordial icons. What Hall could gain from Moore is a more dramatic technique for incorporating open, closed and wrapped forms that carry the eye in, out and around works.

Hall’s value system is not only revealed through his art, but also in his actions. He will donate most of his proceeds from the sale or lease of the carvings (and custom-made stepping stones) to “Operation Blackberry Patch,” a program of the not-for-profit BRCA, Inc. The initiative has a mission to bring sustainable economic development opportunities to the poor and includes establishing sustainable garden models — a perfect fit for a garden artist like Hall who also directs the Age of Stone Sculpture Center. Funds generated by Hall’s sculptures and a concurrent exhibition of watercolor lithographs by Alvin E. Begaye (three prints for $50 each) will help repair roofs and ceilings of select, poverty-stricken Indianapolis residences. Sales also will aid with building a garden model in the Navajo/Diné Indian Nation near Fort Defiance, Ariz.

In conjunction with both exhibitions is a free event on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2-6 p.m. The “Operation Blackberry Patch” Sustainable Economic Development Seminar will include music, Hall’s poetry, an opportunity to purchase artwork, plus a slide show about the “Sustainable Agro-Forestry Garden Model of Poverty Prevention and Abatement” by George Singleton.

Sculptures on view through spring 2007; lithographs remain on view and are available online or by order: 317-353-BONA (2662), irvingtonians@earthlink.net, www.hopelausa.org/Operation BlackberryPatch.html, www.hopelausa.org/AgeofStone SculptureCenter.html.

Benefit Concert
Come out to Birdy’s Wednesday, Feb. 21 for a benefit concert for “Operation Blackberry Patch.” Folk rocker and Dualtone Recording artist Brett Dennen will perform as part of his “Love Speaks” tour.

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