Reviving Andre the SealMay 8, 2018
Andre the seal was a very famous resident of Rockport harbor from 1961 through 1986, who wintered at the Boston Aquarium.
So famous, that he has a memorial sculpture at Rockport Marine Park, created by Jane Wasey in 1978.
I’m excited to have been selected to restore this tribute to a famous and much-loved resident.
See this article about the restoration in the Penobscot Bay Pilot. Formal approval by the Rockport Select Board is expected on Monday, May 14. The work is privately funded; fundraising is in progress.
For more on Andre, see:
- Article on newengland.com
- The PBS documentary “The Seal Who Came Home“, described in the Bangor Daily News.
- The book “A seal called Andre”
- A bit of controversy in The Washington Post
For more on how I do this kind of work, see the Special Services article on this website.
Profiled in Slippery RockMay 2, 2018
The April 2018 issue of the Slippery Rock Gazette contains an extensive interview that I gave to Peter Marcucci.
You can read it here.
River’s voice updateMarch 30, 2018
From the Times Record, an update on The River’s Voice:
THE RIVER’S VOICE
Andreas von Huene took a rubber mallet and struck the 42-inch-diameter metal disc he liberated from a scrap metal pile at Bath Iron Works that was balanced on his workshop table.
Like hitting a kind of Iron Age gong, the sound filled the ramshackle space, its reverberations coming like waves. Its presence felt somehow viscous, if such a term can describe sound.
“Now listen to this,” von Huene said, and tossed a few coins onto the disc. This time, the sound became piercing, as if Jimi Hendrix was choking as much high-pitched feedback as he could out of a Marshall amp and Stratocaster.
Working in collaboration with the Brunswick Parks and Rec Department and Brunswick Public Art, von Huene wants to bring a combination of sight and sound onto the Brunswick Mall in the form of a $40,000 playable, percussive sculpture.“The River’s Voice” is described by Brunswick Public Art as an “outdoor interactive musical sculpture” that may be installed as soon as this fall. The organization states the work will “celebrates the return of the Androscoggin River as a a defining and honored feature of our town.”
Von Huene said he was inspired by the notion that “all New England towns turn their backs on the rivers,” yet now Brunswick is connecting its downtown to the Androscoggin.
Thus, the title “The River’s Voice.”
The 8-foot long, 4-5 ton work will consist of a series of metal discs of varying sizes mounted on a granite base that, when struck, will produce music.
Brunswick Public Art has raised about half the cost for its creation and installation on the southern end on the Mall.“It’s the kind of project we’d been thinking about for years,” Brunswick Public Art President Susan Weems said. “It’s just a happy, positive piece of art that most communities don’t have.”
Weems said the sculpture fits in with other entities in the area, including Bowdoin International Music Festival and Maine State Music Theatre, both of which hold performances at Bowdoin College.
However, use of the Brunswick Mall has been contentious. Members of the public and some on the Brunswick Town Council have voiced concern over the increased presence of vendors, and with a planned memorial on the Mall’s north end.
“The River’s Voice” will be installed at an area of the Mall separated by a set of railroad tracks, and “is not used very much,” Weems said.
Noise generated by the sculpture shouldn’t disturb nearby businesses, she said, because it “won’t be that loud.”
“There won’t be crashing and banging,” Weems said. “This will be a beautiful sound. And it won’t be bothering sleepers.”
“The River’s Voice was initially planned to be located on the bike path along the Androscoggin River, but Weems said the location was “too disconnected” from downtown.
After installation, “The River’s Voice” will be owned by the town, free of charge.
For a guy whose work includes the most visible piece of public art in Bath — a gleaming white sculpture near the Androscoggin — von Huene is not easy to find.
His Arrowsic studio is perched atop a wooded hill accessible via a long, twisting dirt drive. His closest neighbors appear to be a flock of wild turkeys that regularly stop by to be fed.
His studio and workshops are a maze of tools, found objects and raw material. It’s there where he taps his creative juices.
“I’m a sculptor, I like shaping things,” von Huene said. “It’s a process of discovery — an adventure.”
He works in wood, metal and stone, and a trip to the quarry for material makes him feel “like a kid in a candy store.”
“As you’re carving (a sculpture), it’s character is developing. It’s kind of like building a friend, or a child,” von Huene said. “You think you can control it all, but then you’re missing part of the joy of its character developing. Some people say, ‘the stone rules.’ And that’s often the case.”
He added: “There’s no word in the English language that adequately describes the combination of blistering hard work and pleasure.”
Von Huenes said it was important that “The River’s Voice” be something interactive, and to engage with the senses.
“So much of our life has been removed from touching things,” he said, “from experiencing things directly. We’ll go to concerts, movies, we’ll watch television. … Some people are making great discoveries with their apps. But that’s all so secondary. How do we get back to the primary experiences?
“Touch is an important part of sculpture to me.”
Von Huenes work can be seen at Mid Coast Hospital, Mt. Ararat Middle School and even on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.
Von Huenes co-lead the team that built the gleaming white sculpture mentioned earlier — a representation of the schooner Wyoming at Maine Maritime Museum.
There are easier ways to making a living than sculpting, but the challenge is part of the joy Von Huenes finds in his work. And he finds that Maine is the best place for making sculpture.
“The light in Maine is special,” Von Huenes said. “There’s a depth to the sky. And people are approachable. We have cultivated a collegiality amongst ourselves (fellow sculptors). That interconnectedness can be subsumed in a city.”
For von Huenes, art helps people go further in life and beyond their regular routines.
As to why is it important to expose the public to sculptures, like “The River’s Voice” — Weems has an answer, which lies, in part, in the collaborative nature through which the sculpture is coming together.
“Because beauty is important,” she said. “People working together is important.”
For more information on the fundraising for “The River’s Voice,” visit brunswickpublicart.org.
River’s Voice presentationOctober 28, 2017
On October 25, I presented The River’s Voice, a large scale sculpture proposed for the Brunswick Mall, which is sponsored by Brunswick Public Art. A summary description of the project is in this newspaper article and on the BPA website.
I’m pleased to report that Brunswick Public Art has obtained considerable community support for this project, and has already raised about 20% of the funds needed for completion.
A recording of the presentation is available here.
Parliament conveningOctober 17, 2017
My owls have been well-received and popular. I’ve completed a new owl sculpture, which joins my parliament as Owl Rising II.
This horned owl is emerging from a striated block of micaceous quartzite, about 4 ft (1.2 m) square by 3 ft (1 m) high.
Banking in flight, the right wing will double as a bench. The left wing, layered in blues and gray, captures the movement of air and cloud passing over its surface.
You can follow the progress of this work on the Works in Progress (owls) page.
The horned owl gets its name from two prominent feathered tufts on the top of its head. These are often mistaken for ears — the ears are actually slits hidden under feathers on the sides of the head. The wings are broad and rounded in flight. This owl can be found year round throughout North America. Their color varies regionally from sooty to pale. A nocturnal bird, you may see them at dusk sitting on fence posts or tree limbs at the edges of open areas, or flying across roads or fields with stiff, deep beats of their wings. A powerful predator, it can take down birds and mammals even larger than itself, but also dines on tiny scorpions, mice and frogs. It’s one of the most common owls in North America, equally at home in deserts, wetlands, forests, grasslands, backyards, cities, and almost any other semi-open habitat between the Arctic and the tropics. Their call is a deep, stuttering series of four to five hoots.
Additional information on the horned owl, including sound and video, is available here.
Meow! Who took the catnip?October 9, 2017
Creating a bronze is an intricate, multi-step process. See how I created this wildcat here.
For more views of work in progress, click here.
MINA dedicatedSeptember 26, 2017
MINA, which is installed in the lobby of the Collins Center for the Arts in the University of Maine, Orono, was dedicated on September 24th. The dedication was in conjunction with a wonderful concert by the Escher String Quartet, which played pieces by Mozart, Ades, and Grieg. Modeled on the countenance of a teenager considering college, MINA is a free-standing stele in polished red granite.
Here’s a picture of the installation (Click for a larger view):
MINA was started on-site last summer, when I was sponsored by the Littlefield Gallery Sculptor in Residence Program.
It’s not too early for snowSeptember 12, 2017
If you’ve followed the works in progress page, you’ve seen the latest addition to my aviary; a snowy owl in graphic granite.
The Snowy Owl is the largest (by weight) North American owl. It shows up irregularly in winter to hunt in windswept fields or dunes, a pale shape with catlike yellow eyes. They spend summers far north of the Arctic Circle hunting lemmings, ptarmigan, and other prey in 24-hour daylight. They can catch small birds on the fly. In years of lemming population booms they can raise double or triple the usual number of young.
Snowy Owls are seen sitting on or near the ground in wide-open areas, including agricultural fields and airports. They often perch on rises such as the crests of dunes, or on fence posts, telephone poles, and hay bales. They can also be found along the shorelines of lakes and oceans. When they fly they usually stay close to the ground.
For more about this elegant subject, see the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s article.
Symposium updatesAugust 13, 2017
The Maine Coast stone symposium is under way at the Boothbay Railway Village, and runs through August 31st. The other artists and I will be on-site through August 21st.
In addition to creating a new work on-site, I’ll be giving a talk that takes one of my projects from conception through installation, with emphasis on the specialized tooling that I make to shape stone.
The talk has been re-scheduled for Tuesday August 15th at 7PM – but come to the symposium at any time.
Updates, including photos and links to news coverage can be found here.
See work in progressAugust 11, 2017
Every piece that I create has a story that starts with inspiration, and evolves through design, production, and sale. You can participate in the story by visiting the sculpture symposia, such as the one in Boothbay, where you can see me at work and talk about the process.
In addition to these news items, the work in progress page of this website allows you to see how some current projects are evolving.
I’ve also started posting some behind the scenes snapshots to my Instagram account.
I hope that you enjoy these glimpses into the creative process. Let me know what you think!