Bradford Graves Sculpture Park in Kerhonkson, showcases over 200 works of a man who worked primarily in stone and possessed a deep and unyielding fascination with archeology and all things of the earth. His sculpture is complex and rich with meaning, simultaneously ancient and modern, raw and sophisticated, solid and luminous.
To experience the power and solemnity of this collection of stone images is like walking into a quarry. They respond to the force of gravity and form a relationship with the surface on which they lay. This was at the root of Graves' extraordinary conceptual approach to his sculpture. Graves (1939 - 1998) considered that stone came from the earth and with human intervention because sculpture, to lie on the ground only to return to the earth after time. He created flat horizontal slabs that sprawled on the floor and upright totemic blocks recalling the ancient sites that inspired these pieces.
His important mystical series "This Mirror Can Crack a Stone, inspired by Thoreau, hints at meaning that begs for deciphering and yet remains as enigmatic as the sources that provided the initial inspiration. This series, in particular, reveals the relationship of Graves' sculpture to the earth. It is evident in thoughtful and mysterious works such as we find in the "Mirror" series that Graves was an alchemist, a physicist, and a philosopher.
Unearthing the range of his works is like excavating the archeological sites that he found so compelling. In particular, his early works possess a primal quality that is reminiscent of the early figures of prehistoric man. The Mirror Pavilion at the Sculpture Park features this series.
Graves persisted in his quest to connect the ancient with the modern, and in doing so anchors his sculpture beside "popular" works of importance to this day. An explorer with an insatiable appetite for archeological discovery and a seeker of new cultural experiences, he traveled abroad to places he referred to as "stone cultures" where he immersed himself in the technical and archeological training that would inform his art throughout his life. In this country, innumerable trips to the Southwest also provided constant inspiration.
Although most comfortable with a chisel or pencil in hand, Graves was also a writer who articulated his thoughts in essays on sculpture, stone, the creative process, and the human condition. Of his work he wrote, "The making of sculpture may be taken as my desire for wholeness, the recognition of my identity as being a part of the earth and its materials. In the confrontation between my inner image of what I want to make and the actuality of the physical materials, a dialogue begins, and the result of that dialogue is a sculptural statement."
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