THE MAN READING STORY
A SCULPTURE BY MRS. HELOISE CRISTA OF THE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT FELLOWSHIP
By Yves Jeanson
In fall of 2005, my family and I made a trip to Arizona. We visited the Grand Canyon, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Sedona, Tucson, a few beautiful desert botanical gardens, and finally Taliesin West, the school of architecture and desert station of the fellowship initiated by the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). We took a guided tour of the site and the guide, who was an architect himself, showed us around and witnessed a few anecdotes about his own experiences with FLW while he lived.
During our visit, towards the end, there was this beautiful sculpture
garden, and a woman cleaning the sculptures from the accumulated
desert dust. Approaching the woman, I questioned her about who
was the person that had made those sculptures, of which many were
hard edge and abstract, and she answered it was her. Some of her
works were in design, similar to Zanis Waldheims’ prototype
sculptures we had made back in the 1980s. Continuing
our conversation, she briefly talked about her experience with FLW
and his wife Olgivana, the year she joined the group, the book that
she had read (An Autobiography) that changed her life, et cetera.
I told her that I had won, in Montreal Canada, my hometown, a first
prize for an egg shaped four faced glass pyramidal sculpture.
She asked me to describe the sculpture, which I briefly did.
Unfortunately we were unable to talk very long,
as I had stayed behind the tour, and it was reaching to its end,
so I told her that I would send her a picture of my prize winning
sculpture with explanations.
At the end of the tour, we went in the gift shop. We bought books,
and CD’s about FLW life and work, bought the Autobiography she
had spoken to me about, bought a red cup with FLW’s engraved Organic Commandments, and a small bronze sculpture from Mrs. Heloise Crista, the generous and gentle sculptor I had just met in the sculpture garden.
The small bronze sculpture’s title is: THE MAN READING (a man sitting on the ground, legs crossed, bending frontward, head slightly to the right focusing on a large book wide open in his hands). I left the site regretting and thinking that I should of stayed longer to talk to Mrs. Crista; that I had not been clear enough, and that my explanations had been to short to let her a good idea of our point of interest in abstract sculpture. So I decided to write her. Which I did.
In the letter I explained in general, what were the principal ideas of my mentor’s geometrical abstraction ideas, and I attached a large photo of my prize winning glass sculpture, also a short essay on this very abstract glass sculpture, terminating my letter and having in mind the meaningful image of her sculpture of the Man Reading, I asked her this question:
“What means does one have, besides his normal education and higher faculties, to explore the world of knowledge, knowing that words are subjective and relative, and tend to make us go in circles?”
Her beautiful little blue sculpture had propelled me into my element –geometrical abstraction.
Looking at her little sculpture, I could not ask myself anything else than that existential question, and its philosophical impact on world destiny. It was directly related to my thirty years of research in humanities, and just there in this beautiful small blue sculpture, a world of question was there demanding for answers.
I could not think of something else than geometrical abstraction -as developed by Zanis Waldheims- to explore the object of knowledge and contain the barbarian and subjective thinking of the human beings that tend to believe too much in the power of words, to words that promise everything but deliver only blood shed.
Mrs. Crista’s small blue sculpture had made my day, and propelled me in the fundamental questions about life.
Montreal, July 2009.