Our group continues to meet, visit the sites, and plan for their preservation. We are now focused on several grant applications for funding, such as the federal ‘Save America’s Treasures’ grant and a couple highway grants, one of which we have already received for planning. So, we are gathering all our notes and estimates – wish us luck!
In the meantime, we are also tracking down the artists that are still alive or the artist’s family members. Three are still alive – Riddick, Silva, and Katsuji (http://www.kishidakatsuji.com). We recently met with two sisters who are nieces of Erich Reischke. They came from California to see his sculpture. Byron and Bob spent an afternoon with them at their uncle’s piece, talking and reminiscing. They shared memories of Erich’s fascinating and unusual life – living on a commune, becoming a Sikh, several wives, and how shunned he was by his family at first and then later so beloved.
The 2 nieces of Erich Reischke: Rita Reischke Bauer (left) and Sylvia Reischke
Yesterday Byron and I traveled to Northampton, MA, about 2.5 hours drive south to meet halfway, Peter Ruddick and his friend who drove up from New York City where Peter has an art exhibition. He lives in California. We spent 3 hours listening to memories of his upbringing during the war in England, his teaching career in Oregon, then Pratt, and then Goddard, and the symposia that resulted in these sculptures, each lasting 2 months. He spoke about each artist and the artistic influences of the time such as Louise Bourgeois and especially, for him, Alberto Giacometti. He supports our plans for foundations under each sculpture and signage. His contribution to ‘Sculpture on the Highway’ was thought to be ‘Untitled’ but we found out it’s ‘Sextant’. He explained the early influences behind it such as climbing over bunkers and looking thru machine gun sites left over from the war in England as a child. He described how very involved he and other artists were in choosing the location and exact placement of his piece so that the circle framed the mountains in the distance and the diamond framed cars on the highway or parked at the rest stop. We plan to move this sculpture and Peter enjoyed our suggestion of the Sharon Welcome Center where we will once again align it with a view of the mountains at one end and the highway at the other.
Peter Ruddick, Bob Hannum, and Byron Breese in Paul & Elizabeth’s Restaurant, Northampton MA 10/7/19 Peter Riddick’s ‘Sextant’ at a closed weigh station on I-89 South in Sharon
Plans are also afoot to reconstruct a missing piece by Kishida Katsuji who is still alive. It was destroyed years ago while trying to move it. All of these remarkable pieces are 50 years old in 2021, so we’re talking about ways to mark the occasion such as another symposium, National Historic Register designation, the reconstruction of this piece, and other thrilling possibilities.
Kishida Katsuji sculpture at Sharon Rest Stop, I-89 South, destroyed years ago in an attempt to move it.