Inspiring Roots of The Sculpture Studio
Each time I enter the door of my atelier I immediately sense the rich history of it’s founding sculptor, George Wagner, and the many talented artists that have previously walked through those doors. From the small vintage kitchen where we gather for breaks, walls lined with dusty pictures of sculptures and art books, to the musty smell of this well worn garage like space containing the original equipment George set up for his sculpture school back in 1996; there is an enduring energy that is palpable. I flick on the main light switch, greet George, Sylvia and John who have long since passed, yet I still sense their spirit in these walls as they urge me to sculpt with passion and joy just as they did. I open the back door that leads to the outdoor area next to the train tracks where we sculpt; switch on “Old Nellie” (our compressor) who begins her deafening sound of warming up and gathering pressure for my pneumatic tools; don my air mask, goggles and ear plugs, and begin to feel the excitement of just being in this sacred creative space. It feels like home to me now after 8 years and I have so much appreciation and love for the place and all the individuals here, that I wanted to share a little bit of it’s history with you. Yes, I do the sculpting but I couldn’t do it without the love and support of my fellow sculptors. It’s a place of learning, helping each other when more that two or even 4 hands are needed, sharing ideas and just being together doing what we love to do.
When George started the Sculpture Studio he was a retired engineer who loved to sculpt and wanted to teach others how to do it too. He was said to have worked with Brancusi, one of my favorite iconic modern sculptors of the early 1900’s. He showed his work at all of the major shows in the Tampa Bay Area and took great pride in his complete sculptor’s studio with all the equipment any stone or wood sculptor would require. According to Patty Ferrel, artist and one of his original students, “He helped the artist secure the feeling for creating sculpture”. Kathy Manzon, original student and current manger of the studio, says of George ” He wanted to share his knowledge with everyone. And in that same vein we continue to be a place where we help each other”. So as I begin my sculptures for Creative Pinellas, I’m inspired by George’s legacy, this beautiful arts loving area we live in and all of my wonderful artist friends whose energy will no doubt infuse the piece I create. Thank you George!
By Christina Bertsos