Amerikanische Künstler in St. Urban - In the Shadow of the Alps

September 5th, 5 pm, Opening and Reception, Roy Oppenheim

You are all no doubt acquainted with the legendary figure Pygmalion. Pygmalion was the King of Cyprus, and the first sculptor in history. He fell in love with a statue he himself had made. At his request, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, brings the statue to life. The artist as a life-bestowing creator is at the very origin of sculpture. And each sculpture exhibited in the St.Urban Art Pavillon is a new and unique creation "brought to life" by the artist and the viewer's power of contemplation.

This underscores the ideal value of each work as an original: the very term original refers us back to the origin - the initial godly, transcendental genesis. Modern sculpture does not aim to duplicate nature. Each work aspires to be a creation in its own right, faithful to its own inner laws. I like to compare each new creation with a new living being. Like any living being, a work of art is always unique and special an original. So it is hardly surprising that, despite all our modern-day technology and industrialisation, all the sculptors whose works are exhibited here firmly believe in the power and significance of handcrafted works; they insist on expressing their ideas concretely, placing a priority on visual and tactile experience. Where past epochs were still guided by isms, today, freedom of content and materials, and freedom of thought, is virtually without bounds.

Wilhelm Lehmbruck, the sculptor, coined this lovely phrase: "Every work of art must have something of the first creation, an earthy odour, you could even say something animal".This sentence comes to my mind here, in St. Urban, in this new international art centre created by Gertrud and Heinz Aeschlimann. Under the motto "American Sculptors in St. Urban - In the Shadow of the Alps", Gertrud Aeschlimann and guest Curator John Henry, himself a highly gifted artist, are doing some courageous cultural and artistic bridge building between America and Europe in the framework of the pluriannual art-st-urban Art Exchange Programme. In exchange, 8 handpicked Swiss sculptors will be making their way to the USA next year, to show their work in the sculpture park of the Chattanooga Art Museum in Tennessee.

What is impressive and liberating about this exhibition is that artists of the most diverse backgrounds and origins have rendezvoused here to show that art is a common language understood all over the world. It is particularly exciting to see how global ideas and artistic processes have become today. And yet, something new and unknown still always emerges locally - even outside the major art centres. That is true in the United States as well as in smaller-scale Europe.

And now, some information on some of the exciting American sculptors whose works we see here:

Terry Karpowicz

Terry Karpowicz studied art when the theories and practices of Minimalism and Conceptualism dominated. He was awarded a Fulbright-Hayes grant to England. There he servd as a millwright's apprentice, discovering the beauty and craftsmanship of watermill and windmill construction. Karpowicz is particularly drawn to tension at the point of contact between disparate materials. By joining irregular, organic materials to machine-tooled geometric shapes of metal, he creates actual or implied kinetic relationships among the elements of the sculpture. The ways these disparate materials interact with each other mark the artist's relationship to his world. Oak and granite nesting in congruent harmony, stainless steel orbs spinning with walnut ellipses, granite shards twisting against armatures of steel--all elements held together with Karpowicz's signature dedication to refined and skillful craftsmanship.

John Henry

1943 Born in Lexington, Kentucky. He studied at the University of Washington, University of Kentucky, Illinois Institute of Technology, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Chicago, and was distinguished by an Honorary Doctor of Arts from the University of Kentucky. His signature pieces are dispersed throughout the world in public, private and museum collections. He has a long track record, extending more than 30 years, of successful projects with local, state and federal governments.

He is particularly sensitive to issues of appropriateness when working in the public arena. His experience in building works which interact with architecture and the environment is well documented. Numerous site visits and interaction with community citizenry is an integral element in his conceptual development of the design process. The use of automotive finishes as well as traditional gold and palladium gilding has also contributed to an expanded vocabulary within Henry's formal approach to sculpture.

Albert Paley

Albert Paley has been active as an artist for over 30 years. At his studio in Rochester, New York, he employs ten people full time. He is the first metal sculptor to receive the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Architects, the AIA's highest award to a non-architect. Commissioned by both public and private corporations, Paley has completed more than 50 site-specific works. Recently completed works include a 40 ton sculpture for Adobe Systems in San Jose, CA, major entrance rotunda gates for the new San Francisco Civic Center Courthouse, main entry gates for the Naples Museum of Art in Naples, FL, and a sculptural relief for Wellington Place, Toronto, Canada. Paley will begin work soon on a monumental sculpture for the Rochester Institute of Technology, which will be his largest work to date. His work can be found nationally and internationally in the permanent collections of over 30 museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Toledo Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum, both in London.

Dennis Oppenheim

Oppenheim was born in 1938 in Electric City, Washington (USA); in 1965, Oppenheim earned his BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland (USA). He moved to New York in 1966 where he first taught nursery school, then high school, art while working toward his first one-person exhibition in New York, held in 1968 when he was 30 years old. Dennis Oppenheim's conceptual artworks include performance, sculpture, and photographs. His early work tended to focus on performance actions that focus on representations of human and animal bodies. In the early 1970s, he was in the vanguard of artists using film and video in relation to performance; he lives and works in New York City.

Chakaia Booker

Chakaia was born 1953, in Newark, New Jersey. She studied sociology at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, MFA and at the City College of New York. The artist lives in New York and works in Manhattan and Allentown, PA. She is well known for sculpture-found objects and recycled materials such as rubber tires, steel, wood frames etc.

Working from a studio in the heart of Manhattan's East Village, Chakaia Booker creates large-scale sculptures from found objects, especially tires from cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles. One of her pieces, It's So Hard to be Green, is a high-relief wall of shredded tires that appear to look like a junk yard. The piece earned her much critical acclaim in the 2001 Whitney Biennial. In 2005, Chakaia Booker received a Guggenheim Fellowship in recognition of the expressive power and conceptual breadth of her sculptural works constructed from old rubber tires. It has been said of her work that it is an esthetic response to the urban landscape of northern New Jersey and a reference to African identity. For her, tires are metaphors for the range of skin tones of the African American. Booker?s sculpture is exploratory; it addresses universal themes, its context extends from the monumental 20th century sculptural tradition and many broad cultural issues of our times.

Peter Lundberg

Peter Lundberg is widely acclaimed for his monumental concrete and steel sculptures. Lundberg is also respected for his leadership in bringing sculpture to the public.

His initiative and energy have resulted in the establishment of several new sculpture parks. These are widely visited and supported by the community and local officials. My art is about history, civilization, man, nature, evolution, time, archaeology, physics, process, freedom, individuality, dreams and personal experiences. I want to understand and promote public awareness of these things which I feel are important for cultural, moral and humane understanding.

John Clement

Born in 1969 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, John Clement graduated with a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. After studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York, in 1992-93, Clement began his mentorship under Mark Di Suvero, a major constructivist sculptor. Clement was subsequently apprenticed to the luminary sculptor, John Henry. In 2005, Clement was included in the Vancouver Sculpture Biennale, an exhibit featuring several internationally renowned artists. He has had many Solo exhibitions and won many awards.

Isaac Duncan

He says: "I like to work with the illusion of movement. By placing certain forms at different angles, I challenge weight and gravity." Isaac Duncan III was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and is of Afro-Cuban descent. He has Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame, and a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from the University of Kentucky.

Mr Duncan has taught art in St. Joseph, Mi., sculpture at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and digital image making at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. His work has been exhibited in numerous venues including Governor State University, University Park, Illinois, Krasl Art Center, St. Joseph, Mi. South Bend Regional Museum of Art, South Bend, In., and the Headley-Whitney Museum in Lexington, Ky. His work is represented in many public and private collections in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Verina Baxter

Verina Baxter's career as a professional artist begins in the early 1990s. After working exclusively in stone for several years, Verina began incorporating painted aluminum and, more recently, stainless steel into her artwork. While stone remains her choice material, several of her new works are all metal.

In addition to her career as a sculptor, Verina is deely committed to the arts community. She is currently president of Mid-South Sculpture Alliance. She is second year fund raising co-chair and secretary for Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga and a board member of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera. She is also co-chair of the selection committee for Spectrum for Hunter Museum of American Art etc. Verina's international education includes the University of Tennessee at Knoxville; the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee; the Loveland Academy of Fine Arts in Loveland, Colorado; and the Abruzzi Mountain Art School in Anversa degli Abruzzi, Italy. Her works are exhibited internationally and included in numerous private and corporate collections.

Bret Price

Bret Price just completed a major exhibition at the Dayton Art Institute in Dayton, Ohio, and has recently installed major commissions for the Crown Manufacturing Corporation in New Bremen, Ohio. A recent documentary about his work, ?Art in the Middle?, has been featured at numerous film festivals throughout the United States.

Douglas Schatz

Douglas Schatz was recently a featured artist at the Outdoor Museum of Art at Chattanooga State College in Chattanooga, TN. He is a frequent lecturer and guest curator throughout the Northeast United States and has exhibited in many regional and national shows.

These are the 11 top artists participating in the special exhibit ?In the Shadows of the Alps?. Their work broadens our horizons and explores new experiences. Above all, they involve, challenge, stimulate and inspire the viewer.

I would like to leave these thoughts with you on your walk through the St. Urban sculpture park.

Roy Oppenheim

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Liebe Kunstliebhaber und Freunde der Vereinigten Staaten,

Kunst transzendiert, wie die Musik, Grenzen und Sprachen. Sie reflektiert Emotionen und Erfahrungen, die wir alle teilen und bleibt doch offen für Interpretation, was sie universell zugänglich macht. Die Ausstellung "U.S. Sculptors in St. Urban - In The Shadows Of The Alps" verkörpert die interkulturelle Reichweite von Kunst und wird in diesem Sinne von der Amerikanischen Botschaft Bern gern unterstützt.

Die skulpturalen Arbeiten von elf amerikanischen Künstlern vor der beeindruckenden Kulisse der Schweizer Alpen ergeben ein überwältigendes Sinnbild der tiefen Verbindung und gegenseitigen Wertschätzung, die zwischen den Vereinigten Staaten und der Schweiz bestehen. Diese Ausstellung, die laut den Veranstaltern die erste ihrer Art in der Schweiz überhaupt ist, ist das Produkt der langen und lebendigen Geschichte der Zusammenarbeit zwischen den Vereinigten Staaten und der Schweiz in den Bereichen Kunst, Musik, Architektur und ungezählten weiteren Disziplinen. Der gegenseitige Respekt, den wir für die Kultur des jeweils Anderen empfinden, ist ein großer Gewinn für die Schweiz und die Vereinigten Staaten, zumal damit die Basis für gemeinsames Verständnis geschaffen wird und zugleich die Kommunikation zwischen den Bevölkerungen beider Länder weiterhin gefördert wird.

Im Namen der Botschaft der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika in Bern möchte ich den Künstlern und Organisatoren, die bei der Realisierung der Ausstellung "U.S. Sculptors in St. Urban - In The Shadows Of The Alps" mitgewirkt haben, meine tief empfundenen Glückwünsche überbringen. Insbesondere möchte ich Heinz und Gertrud Aeschlimann-Kohler danken, die viel Zeit und Energie investiert haben, um diese Ausstellung Wirklichkeit werden zu lassen.

Ich wünsche Ihnen einen angenehmen Besuch und hoffe, dass ein Rundgang durch die Ausstellung Sie zu einem besseren Verständnis der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika führen wird.

Peter R. Coneway


art-st-urban ist ein unabhängiges, einzigartiges Kunstzentrum, privat finanziert. Angeschlossen ist der Verein "Artist in Residence Förderprogramm Young Artist".