Sunday, December 19, 2021
Liberty Hill and the Sculptors
Artists from all over made me feel at home
By Linda Kerr
Their days were spent with mallets and chisels, air hammers and welding tools, attacking limestone and granite, scrap metal and marble.
They were 23 artists in Liberty Hill for the International Sculpture Symposium. While working with material that would not give, the sculptors found the people of Liberty Hill could not give enough.
Sculptor Mel Fowler of Liberty Hill organized the event and arrange for donations of native Texas stone from nearby quarries. Local residents kept the visitors in their homes.
The two-month symposium ended last week, and by weeks end most of the participants had finished their work and going home.
The sculptors, representing seven countries, worked outdoors in the center of the town of fewer than 500 people. They drew a steady stream of visitors – schoolchildren from across the street and serious artists from across the country.
At midday, they broke for lunch, which was provided near the site by different church and civic groups.
The garden club served on Monday, the Church of Christ women on Wednesday.
Mrs. Effy Alan, 74, is in both.
“I fixed chicken fried steak one time and took it down there in an electric fry-pan, “said Mrs. Allen. “They ate everything, just like a working man.”
But she noted, they like to homemade casseroles better than store-bought pies.
“A lady I know in another town asked me if we charge them for it,” said Mrs. Allen. “I said, ‘Of course we didn’t charge them!’ ”
James and Adela Smith housed four artists in a cottage on their property. Charlie Carlisle converted his den into a bedroom and took in a Japanese and an Italian sculptor.
“Liberty Hill is my home,” said Carlisle. “What’s good for Liberty Hill is what I want. ”
“I also wanted to expose my children (he has five) to some international culture,” he said. “My wife’s full blooded Italian, so we thought it’d be fun to have an Italian. ”
It was also fun, he remembered, driving to the Oriental food store in Austin to let his other guest, Masayuki Nagase, buy what he needed for the meals the sculptor prepared for the family.
And when the Nagase wasn’t cooking or sculpting or visiting granite quarries, according to Carlisle, he was often teaching the children of the house how to make bamboo lamp shades or do origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.
Nagase commented that the symposium gave him a chance to do a large-scale work with complete artistic freedom, unhampered by financial considerations.
It was also an opportunity to meet other sculptors and learn new techniques, he said.
The monument-size creations will remain in Liberty Hill for about a year according to Fowler and then will be moved to their permanent location, a donated 16 acre site on a hill overlooking the town.
There’s talk in Liberty Hill of making the symposium biennial event.