In 2011, I was contacted by Amy Freeman of Freeman Design Associates who was working with Jerry Rubenstein on signage for the newly named Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center. The Rubensteins were looking for an artist to create a bronze sculpture of their mother for the Jewish Community Center. If you are interested, I documented the creation of Evelyn on a website blog. The Rubensteins and Amy came to my studio, and we all hit it off. At this time, the Rubensteins were also talking about a possible second sculpture of Evelyn for a park. My focus was on the sculpture for the Jewish Community Center, but I was curious about this mention of a sculpture for a park.
Over the many visits to my studio, Jerry and Linda would share artwork and artists that they discovered, I assumed they were ideas for the park. One such piece was the Alice In Wonderland sculpture in central park. Over the years, I have received numerous photographs from the Rubensteins of this sculpture, but I have yet to see it for myself. My wheels began to turn about Alice. I was delighted to find that the story and illustrations were in the public domain, I was even more delighted to find that the story would be celebrating 150 years in 2015. I immediately purchased an The Annotated Alice, which features both stories of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Later I purchased another copy of the annotated Alice, I created a book mark, with the most recent image suggested for the park, strung pieces of a tea party to it and presented it to Jerry. My daughter who is the owner of Diliberto Photo and Design helped. We had so much fun searching for all of these elements and putting them together in this very classy package.
I have sculpted quite a few deceased loved ones. It is my specialty, and I develop a certain connection to the loved ones. Last year the Texas Country Reporter came out and created a wonderful segment on this part of my artwork. You can see it on this YouTube video. You could say when doing this type of artwork…I develop a relationship with the deceased, and though I had never known Evelyn, I became friends with her as I created the sculpture for the Jewish Community Center.
Not long after beginning the sculpture of Evelyn in 2012 I began to create digital designs to present to the Rubensteins. I had several designs that I spent hours on and never presented. The one design that had me was Alice. I just kept coming back to Alice.
The interesting thing is that, originally the Rubensteins did not want just a random sculpture, they wanted another portrait of Evelyn. Over time, I think Alice and her friends won the heart of the Rubensteins. Or maybe I’m just a good sales woman, I’ll never know, but this sculpture as it has morphed between my client and I, will be a destination spot when people come to Houston. Visitors will enjoy the interaction and the most coveted dining experience in Texas. I think Evelyn would be proud for all that it represents, family, imagination, literature, creativity, and fun.
Over the next three years, I modified the designs, and Alice grew from a life-size sculpture to a monumental sculpture with the mad hatter being 8 feet tall. At one point we talked about making the table much, much larger to accomodate more guests, but instead brought it down to this intimate size. Originally I had designed the sculpture to be a mix of materials-bronze and faux bois. Faux bois is concrete that is made to look like wood. The table and benches would be this faux bois. The first designs of the project were going to be a collaboration of myself and two master faux bois artists Donald Tucker and Cindee Klement. The work of these masters is nothing less than yummy, but the client changed the material desiring all bronze. Maybe one day I will see the mix of these two mediums, but it was back to the drawing board one more time.
In the last of the project designs, I had created and suggested an additional sculpture of Evelyn on a faux bois bench petting a large grey poodle. The Rubensteins had just lost their long time furry companion and because I love dogs and also specialize in pet memorials. I thought this might be a good addition to the park. I still hope that one day this additional piece will be added to the park. I loved the idea of Evelyn sitting back and watching everything that was taking place in her special wonderland, and I thought kids would love to interact with the dog as much as the other art. But budget and time were an issue, and we narrowed it down to the characters, table, benches, and podium with the book. To sculpt all of this in such a short amount of time is still a massive undertaking. Be sure to watch to see how I do this on both this blog and the Finding Alice Facebook Page
The idea of hiding things in the wood was an early decision of my own. At first I was not going to tell anyone. When I found out it was the 150th anniversary of the story, the “150” becomes a personal challenge for me. Plus after reading the annotated Alice I realized there were so many hidden things in Lewis Carroll’s original story that I have much from which to choose. I’m delighted to be writing two books on this project one about he process from start to finish and documenting all of the technology used in the creation. The Alice Process book will be very similar to my new book coming out in Sept called 3D Technology in Fine Art and Craft: Exploring 3D Printing, Scanning, Sculpting and Milling. Unlike the 3D Tech in Fine art book, which features artists and work from all over the world, this new book will feature just the art and technology used in Alice, I can’t wait to show you, as it is pretty incredible.
The other book I will create, after the sculpture is done being sculpted and off to the foundry, is a field guide written in Rhyme and riddle. It is about the 150 hidden elements. Note: this does not mean just 150 hidden things. There are meanings behind the pieces that are a part of the hidden elements. So, take out your the Annotated Alice, and watch the process of creating this sculpture. You will have to brush up on these things to be able to completely fill in all of the spaces in the field guide. I’ll talk about that more on that in a later blog post.
A design is only a design. An artist must sell the idea to their client, and help their client to become so much a part of the creative process that they are invested. In the a case like “Move One Place On” for Evelyn’s Park, which is the title of this sculpture, there are many other things that play a part in when a job can begin. There were committee meetings, city council, permits, budgets, revising designs, modifying estimates, finding vendors, etc, etc. Many of these things were totally out of my hands. All these needed to be taken care of before things could be finalized with the sculpture. These final details took place on July 3rd.
I have been working for three years on designs, proposals, presentations, budgets, estimates, and revised estimates, enlargements, and changes. I had thought and proclaimed that the project would start “next month” for these three years. There were so many hold ups that I am sure all of my friends and family thought I had made the entire commission up. Believe me, I like Alice, began to wonder if it were all just a part of a dream. I’m elated to pronounce that the project officially began on July 3, the day before the actual 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. What a fitting tribute.
So now you know the morphing and history of this project. Stay tuned to my blog and to the Finding Alice Page to see how we progress from here. If you have not seen the YouTube video on the project, it describes some of the ins and outs of the project and technology better than can be explained right here. Get ready… this should be a curious adventure. Thanks for coming down the rabbit hole with me.