Monday, October 25, 2021
LIBERTY HILL IS UNDER NINE FLAGS FOR THE DURATION OF THE SYMPOSIUM
School children turned out en masse for impressive flag ceremony
By KAY POWERS
LIBERTY HILL - A cacophony of creativity fills the air around this little town's Market Square these days a strange symphony brought here by the first International Sculpture Symposium ever to take place in the Southwest.
Punctuating the din are the clink-clunks of metal on marble, the screams of power saws biting into limestone, the rat-a-tat-tat of pneumatic drills eating through granite.
As chips of stone fall rhythmically to the ground under the steady onslaught of inspiration and talent, an undercurrent of eloquent French or Italian or sing-songy Japanese can frequently be heard.
THE 25 SCULPTORS who have come by invitation to take part in the symposium represent seven different nationalities and many speak only a trace of English.
Since an impressive ceremony not long after the symposium got under way, Liberty Hill has been a town under nine flags -- Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Tunisia, the United States, the Bicentennial banner and the flag of Texas.
Market Square is filled with activity as the artists push to get their sculpture in shape before cold weather. Already they have felt the biting edge of a Texas norther and heard the plinking of cold rain drops on the market booths' tin roofs while they huddled together, warming their hands around mugs of hot coffee or tea.
BUT ALONG WITH THIS they are thoroughly enjoying the warmth of Texas hospitality, which has seen Liberty Hill families literally open up their homes to provide room and board for the visiting artists for the several weeks of the symposium.
It's a cultural exchange which already has provided humorous situations galore and which promises to yield a wealth of memories for all those involved.
An international sculpture symposium of this magnitude takes place about every other year, according to Mel Fowler, Liberty Hill's sculptor-in-residence. In this country, symposiums have been held only in California, Washington and Vermont.
FOR THIS REASON, the event is drawing a steady stream of visitors to this unincorporated town of less than 500 to enjoy the rare opportunity of watching several well-known sculptors at work at one time.
Even on weekends there is apt to be someone at work at Market Square, since some of the American sculptors are teaching and can only come on Saturdays and Sundays to carve.
When the symposium ends in late November, each of the sculptors will leave at least one completed work to become the nucleus of a permanent sculpture park in the vicinity of Liberty Hill as a Bicentennial gift for the town.
AT PRESENT, the enormous pieces of limestone, serpentine, granite and marble donated by quarries at Burnet, Marble Falls, Llano and Jonestown are just beginning the metamorphosis which will change them into works of art.
One can already see it, however, in the limestone on which Italy's Renato Mari carves one of the huge abstract heads with owlish features which dominate many of his pieces.
Harry Noodrhoek, from Canada, is also working in limestone, following chip by chip a natural contour in the stone. He has brought with him a "mockette" in smooth blackish marble which his finished piece probably will resemble, he says --
but he adds that he will not let the model dictate to him if other ideas present themselves as he works.
MASAYUKI NAGASE is showman as well as sculptor. Tall and muscular in appearance, he leaps to the top of his granite and almost rides his jarring pneumatic hammer, using a tabi-clad foot to pin it against the stone.
Banging a heavy metal mallet against a tungsten steel-tipped chisel, tall, intense Brad Goldberg from Rhode Island smooths red granite which will be part of a totem-like structure.
"I think it is very important when taking part in international symposium, to say something about one's own country with one’s work,” he explains, indicating the strong American Indian influences in the design he will follow. He carved a similar piece, he says, in a symposium in Yugoslavia from which he recently returned.
AT MID-DAY, the sculptors stop working to enjoy Picnic lunches which are brought over by Liberty Hill housewives, served out in the open when the weather Permits and in the firehouse otherwise.
Then it's back to work again, with everyone hurrying to get as much done as possible during good weather.
Jean Marmarot of Paris renews his attack on his piece of limestone, Sharon Corgan-Leeber of Dallas, puts the torch to scrap metal from which she will wrest welded sculpture, Duff Browne of Austin studies a hand-sized clay mockette form which he draws inspiration.
BART SHIGERU UCHIDA of Canada, fluent in several languages (but not in Japanese, he claims) graciously leaves his own work at times to serve as translator for his fellow sculptors.
Mihama Yoshinao takes corners off his block of limestone with a whining masonry power saw, sending a geyser of white rock dust spewing into the air as he works.
There is, as a matter of fact, dust everywhere. It settles into small heaps on the ground, it sifts into the hair and grits its way into eyes, nostrils and mouth so head coverings of one kind or another, goggles and masks are very much in vogue at the symposium site.
SMALL AND SHY, Yoshinao applies himself diligently to the Power saw. He speaks only a word or two of English, but as he turns away from his work, his delightful sense of humor and his comprehension of what's happening here in America are obvious, under laughter-crinkled eyes, his mask has carefully drawn across it two neat rows of very Carteresque teeth.
AT WORK – Sculptors Bart Uchida of Canada, left, and Sharon Corgan-Leeber of Dallas work on their contributions to the International Sculpture Symposium. Uchida uses a pneumatic chisel to cut the limestone. Snake-like air hoses mean visitors must watch where they walk.
Corgan-Leeber is working with scrap metal. Her pretty gloves were a gift from her husband, who is also a sculptor. (Staff Photos by Kay Powers)