Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Cousin Stuart's Gift

On January 20th and 21st, Seattle Art Museum opened its Olympic Sculpture Park on the Seattle waterfront.

I have a connection to its fountain.

My cousin Stuart Smailes Jr. (b.1934 - d.10/23/2003) had a passion for the arts, theater and Broadway musicals. He volunteered at the Paramount, 5th Avenue, Seattle Repertory Theaters, and many other arts organizations, as well as the Seattle Zoological Society.

Stuart was a kind and generous man with a quick wit and unique sense of humor. He gave generous financial support to many organizations and causes. He never married and had no children.

In his will, Stuart left about $1 million to the city of Seattle. He wanted to commission a new public fountain. And he wanted the artwork to include at least one realistic nude male figure. Seattle had no nude sculptures in its outdoor art collection.

The Seattle Art Museum announced that his bequest would fund a commission called "Father and Son" by acclaimed New York artist Louise Bourgeois. The 15-foot-high stainless-steel fountain was installed in the Olympic Sculpture Park on the Seattle waterfront.

In Bourgeois' proposal for the sculpture, the life-sized figures face each other but are obscured from each other by a cloak of falling water that, at hourly intervals, will shift to reveal first one figure, then the other, at the ringing of a bell. The artist described the figures as "held in the air on a column which will serve as a feed to create the two mounds of gushing water that will hide the naked figures. The boy's hand reaches up and out to embrace the father. The father in turn reaches out to embrace his son."

The sculpture has caused controversy, because some people believe it depicts pedophilia.

1 comment:

Patty said...

Oh how interesting Gary, thankyou so much for sharing this with us all. hugs