Friday, February 01, 2013

Arty Farty Friday ~ William McVey, Sculptor

Curiosity about a photograph of a sculptural relief found among the husband's vintage collection led me to investigate the work of sculptor William McVey. The photo, below, comes from a large collection of negatives husband found in an antique store in Wichita Falls, Texas some years ago. The professionally stored and listed collection of hundreds of negatives, grouped into two sets, had seemingly once been the property of an American airforceman in World War 2, stationed in England in the mid-1940s, returning to Texas when the war eneded. Husband scanned the collection of negatives which turned out to be mainly of aircraft and English airfields, some personnel and scenery - the 2 sets can be seen, on multiple pages, at Flickr HERE and HERE.

That photograph was among the second set of later dated negatives, taken after the photographer had returned to the US. From other photographs the location can be established as on the campus of University of Texas, Austin - at the Texas Memorial Museum.......The sculpture can be seen in the modern photo (right). The figure supporting the map of Texas is "an Atlas figure named Texas Natural Resources, shouldering the wealth of Texas rivers and forests." (See HERE).

I searched for information on the sculptor and found the name: William McVey.

From Texas Archival Resources Online
William M. McVey was born in Boston July 12, 1905, spent his boyhood on a farm near Worcester, Massachusetts and moved to Cleveland, Ohio with his parents in 1919. He later said that he could not remember a time when he was not drawing and modeling. After graduating from high school in 1922, he attended the Rice Institute (later University) in Houston, Texas on an athletic scholarship from 1923-1927, ....took courses in the department of architecture, including art.....transferred from Rice and returned to Cleveland’s Institute of Art to study sculpture, graduating in 1928..... went to Paris, where he lived from 1929 to 1931 and studied at the Colarossi, Scandinave and Grand Chaumiere academies . (He later recalled that when his borrowed funds ran out, he became an official tour guide in Paris to earn money.)

McVey returned to the United States to launch a career as teacher and sculptor. In March 1932 he married Leza Sullivan, a ceramist and textile artist; they had no children. McVey held a number of teaching positions, including assignments at the Institute of Art in Cleveland, Ohio State University, Detroit’s Cranbrook Academy of Art, Houston Museum of Art, and the University of Texas at Austin. During World War II he served in the Army Air Force both in the U.S. and in the Philippines, earning four battle stars and the rank of major. In 1953 he returned to the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he became head of the Sculpture Department.

McVey’s sculptures are found coast to coast and include portrait busts along with architectural sculpture.......

McVey died in Cleveland, Ohio on May 30, 1995

Some snips from a piece by Faye Sholiton HERE (Images added).

Bill McVey, as professor and artist, aimed for accessibility. His goal, he said, was “the presentation of the sculptural idea in a form acceptable and meaningful to the intelligent layman, without sacrificing quality.”

Few artists have left as many monuments on the American landscape as sculptor William Mozart McVey. His nine-foot bronze Winston Churchill (1966) greets visitors to the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Not far away, six statues sculpted by McVey between 1967 and 1974 can be found in the porch and crypt of the National Cathedral. His memorials to Davey Crockett, Jim Bowie (below) and the heroes of the Alamo were the centerpieces of Texas’s centennial in 1936.

His stone and cast bronze animals that reside in many of the nation’s zoos are as beloved as any of the caged ones.
But it was in northeastern Ohio that McVey left the greatest body of his work. Among his 48 pieces of public sculpture: the 16-foot Long Road aluminum wall relief (1962) for the now-defunct Jewish Community Center in Cleveland Heights: a line of people which stops above a wing-shaped bar; beneath are 10 figures in a family or social grouping - depicts Jewish people searching for equality and security through the ages. Man Helping Man (1974); and the seven-foot bronze Jesse Owens (1982) in Cleveland (below):

....and the bronze monument to his own wire-haired terrier, McDog (1985), at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

..............His achievements in sculpture were surpassed only by his achievements as a teacher at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Many artists call him their spiritual father...... For those who knew him, however, Bill McVey’s greatest legacy was the gift of laughter, which permeated every aspect of his life and art. Churchill’s bronze cigar sat in an ashtray; a terra cotta bird struggled to hatch from a ceramic egg McVey had fashioned; and a handmade sign over the door read: "BE ALERT. WE NEED MORE LERTS."

William McVey depicted the zodiac too - in a sun dial at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

Brief note on his astrology:
His natal Sun and Neptune lay in sensitive Cancer. Neptune (creativity) links to Mars in Scorpio and Saturn in Pisces via two trine (120*) aspects, and that forms a Grand Trine configuration - harmonious circuit. Neptune's creativity blended with the energy of Mars and hard strength of Saturn - it translates well to the way a sculptor manifests his/her artistic urges, for the work of a sculptor has to be more physically demanding and energetic than that of a painter weilding only paintbrush and pencil.

Venus, planet of the arts in communicative Gemini conjoins Jupiter in late Taurus - here I see another connection to the way this artist communicates his artistic urges - via solid Earth-related materials.


mike said...

I was surrounded by art of various types when I was younger...much of it acquired while a student in college created by the art students and sold cheaply or given to me. One of my jobs financing my studies was working as a framer...framing 2D art works...I was allowed to use the scrap pieces to frame anything I wanted. I had quite a collection.

Over the years, I've moved across this continent for my career so many times that I abandoned various pieces that were too fragile or too large. Decades later...too many transitions later...I have no art collection! Boohoo. Ditto for my once-huge library of books (many rare and hard to find astrology tomes).

Your "Arty Farty Friday" commentaries always remind me of the joy and uplift that surrounding oneself with beautiful objetes de'art can lend to well-being. I need to become an acquirer again.

Twilight said...

mike ~~ I can relate to losing stuff along the road through life. I lost all my belongings, art, books, records, photos - everything in one fell swoop - in a fire in 1996, so had to start collecting again. Then, when I emigrated in 2004, I left most of what I had gathered again behind - sold or given away. So I began yet again in OK and on our travels and visits to antique/vintage stores in various states.

I now have lots of memories of our travels in framed art, decorative artifacts, ceramics etc. as well as some of the husband's own oil paintings.

Yes, you should acquire some art, Mike - wasn't there an old Chinese saying which, very roughly translated/mangled, was:
"If you have a dollar, use 50 cents to buy bread, and 50 cents to buy a hyacinth."

(Bread feeds the body beauty feeds the soul?)

Dan said...

Hi Twilight, I like reading your Arty Farty Friday posts and I was wondering if you could do a post on why 1908 was such a great year for music? Thank you very much for all your time.
P.S. sorry for my broken English.

Twilight said...

Dan ~~` Hi there!
I see no breakage in your English - looks perfect! :-0

I'd be very happy to write a post looking at why 1908 was a great year for music. I wonder, though, whether you are thinking along the lines of those mucicians born that year (whose talents would only come to light decades later); or are you interested in what was actually going on musically in the year 1908?

Dan said...

Hi Twilight,
I am more interested in what was actually going on musically in the year 1908. Two of my favourite pieces were composed that year - Gustav Malher's The Song of the Earth and Gustav Holst's Savitri opus 25. On the other side Arnold Schoenberg started his adventure in atonal music and RCA Victor and Columbia market the flat disc recordings. And among pop music, there is It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary and Take Me Out to the Ball Game which seem to be everlasting.

Thank you very much.

Twilight said...

Dan ~~~ I understand now - and I'll do a bit of investigation, see what I can come up with, bearing all that in mind, Dan. I'll aim to post on it next Monday, if not before.

Dan said...

Thanks again Twilight! I'm very grateful and feel privileged.

carptrash said...

I've been looking for info about McVey's relief at UT (oe. what building is it on) and you;ve given me the answer, so thanks, Einar (don't know how to sing in) Kvaran

carptrash said...

I've ben trying to discover what bulding this relief is on and you have told me. Life is good, Einar