"What's with the bird on Summer Street?"
"There's like this giant sculpture of a bird with breasts on someone's lawn. Do you know anything about it?"
The Summer Street sculpture has had the town abuzz since the fall, when it appeared on the lawn of one of the houses. When I heard the chatter I knew what it was. I had heard that some known-to-the-art-world artists were moving to Maynard. I knew that had to be them. Obviously, I was all excited.
I have had the information to do a blog post on this for a little while, but there's so much to say that I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of writing it. I've decided that I just need to get it out and not waste any more time, so forgive me if I ramble!
Dear Neighbors of Maynard, allow me to introduce you to Donna Dodson, Andy Moerlein and Seagull Cinderella!
I was able to reach Donna via her blog, and she graciously invited me over to see their home and work space. On the day of our get together I eagerly approached their house—having already driven slowly by on a few occasions, I couldn't wait to see Seagull Cinderella up close. Along with the sculpture, their yard had workers and light construction equipment—they were having some work done on the place.
The barn of the property was being finished to be their studio, and though it didn't have any work in it yet, I did get to see it. All this work has meant that their house is acting as a temporary studio. There are sculptures and drawings simply but beautifully displayed everywhere. They've pretty much allowed themselves a kitchen and their rooms upstairs, but the rest of the first floor is a bit like a meandering working gallery, and the basement is currently where they get all the sculpting work done.
They are newly weds who met over art. If I'm correct, they both had sculptures on display in the same gallery, and bad weather left the show opening poorly attended. The two spent the entire time talking to each other. They became friends and kept trying to find ways to work together. The rest, as they say, is history.
Collaboratively they create ephemeral, large-scale, public-display sculptures as The Myth Makers. Both artists have a thing for nature—birds, trees, and stones seem to appear again and again in their work.
I was going to try to describe Donna's work, but realized that her artist statement already does: ‘My artwork celebrates the mystical relationship between human beings and the animal kingdom. Because there were no icons of women in the church that I grew up in, my vision is to create them. Through hybrid female-animal forms that I sculpt in wood, I flesh out sensuality, sexuality and soul with a well-proportioned figurative vocabulary. The natural grain of the wood interacts with the form and shape of my sculptures in a descriptive way, suggesting nostrils, and nipples or garments and fabric textures. I often stylize each piece to enhance the girl, woman, princess, queen or goddess within. The mouths, or in some cases beaks, are closed symbolizing the mysteries they embody. These figures are sculpted in sizes ranging from one to four feet tall. I use color in both subtle and bold ways to activate each piece. My inspiration comes from ancient iconography and mythological imagery.’
I couldn't find Andy's artist's statement, so you'll have to bear with my quick description. His work draws a lot of inspiration from rock. He talked to me about one of his favorite subjects, 'scholar's stones'—naturally occurring or shaped rocks which are traditionally appreciated by Chinese scholars. He dipped into the philosophical and touched on the perceived meanings of 'value', especially when it came to the idea of these scholar's stones. His own work imitates stone forms and texture, often carved out of wood. Take a look in their back yard and you'll get to see one of his large stone sculptures perched in a young tree that shouldn't be up to the task. They defy gravity, they do.
Not only are they cool artists who are new to town, but they're also good citizens; I ran into Andy at the 129 Parker Street meeting at the high school the other week. He was there with a clipboard in hand, likely working on some sculpture ideas, but also asking questions. That means a lot to me. It says that they're really here and present. And the only reason Donna didn't attend was because she had broken a toe when she banged it on one of her sculptures.
Another funny bit of information... I heard that someone in town dressed up as "Seagull Cinderella" for Downtown Trick or Treat. There may even be pictures out there somewhere. I told Donna and Andy about it. They'd love to see it, as would I—what a great idea!
They are not shy about talking to people about their work and hold open houses every now and then. So keep your eye on them and stop in if the chance comes up. And if you see them walking around, say hello and welcome!