July 1, 2013
by Anna Huntington, community arts coordinator for The Sculpture Project
Thank you to everyone who was able to come to Main Street Square bright and early Monday morning to witness the beginning of the carving of Passage of Wind and Water.
If you couldn't make the opening, please stop by soon and check out the artist's progress. Even after the first few days of the carving, it's clear that Masayuki Nagase is coaxing soft beauty and deep meaning from the granite blocks in the Square.
After just a few blows, the artist commented happily about the quality of the stone. "It's much softer than the granite in California," he said. "This makes it much easier to work with and lets us work faster."
The stone is 2,000 million-year-old Carnelian granite quarried in Milbank, S.D.
When you come to the Square, you'll notice the work of two people playing important supporting roles to the sculptor.
Martin Rickert Ibanez is working side-by-side with Masayuki as an assistant this summer and will be with him through August.
Martin and Masayuki met in California, where they both live. Martin grew up in the U.S. and in Ecuador. He trained at the Art Academy of Dusseldorf and in the traditional guild schools for wood and stone carving in Germany. He spent over 10 years in Germany, Italy and Spain continuing his fine arts studies and apprenticing as a stone, wood and bronze sculptor.
If you watch Martin work, you may notice that he's ambidextrous, and can hammer with either hand — an extremely unusual and valuable quality in a sculptor, according to Masayuki.
At the Square, you'll also see the work of Rapid City High School art and language teacher Gabrielle Seeley. The wooden safety barrier enclosing Yuki's workspace started out as an unattractive fiberboard box and was rapidly transformed into a work of art over the weekend by Gabrille with assistance from student-artists Kelci Defender, Mena Brink and Sharon Thunder Hawk. You can see a photo album of them working on the barrier here.
The safety barrier provides protection to visitors from the flying granite chips and clouds of granite dust that occur when the artist carves the stone. It's hard to see from photos, but the chips and dust are abundant and the chips fly with a lot of force during carving. Masayuki and Martin wear safety goggles and masks when they work. So, the box is a necessity for everyone's safety and is equipped with viewing windows, allowing you to observe the sculptor at work from all angles.
Gabrielle has worked with her students to contribute other art solutions to Main Street Square, including the painted canvas wrap around a fence near the parking garage and the artfully painted small electrical boxes. She is a member of the Sculpture Project Advisory Committee and the Rapid City Arts Council.