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Artist Spotlight: Brian Berman

This is an interview with sculptor Brian Berman at his new home and studio on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Already prolific artist, he seems to be entering a new level involvement in his art with a large commission to be complete this year. And he is starting to work in monumental scale. He even has a new (pre-owned) one ton flatbed with boom crane. Large pieces of basalt and granite await his attention around his wooded yard, as well as an array of other smaller stones. We start by viewing his model of his recent commission for an outdoor scuipture/fountain to be sited at a Palm Springs area residence (see cover photo). It is a l/6th scale model in plasticine, of woman and child The woman will be pouring water from the urn she holds into another urn on the ground A child stands beside her, holding a bowl. The main female figure will stand approximately 6' high and both figures will be carved from Indiana limestone. The "base" area will be approximately 6'x6' and simulate a dry riverbed.

SS: Brian, why is the large figure developed with more detail, while the smaller child-form is generalized?BB: I had trouble with the concept of the child. I didn't know how old the child should be, what type clothing or anything. So I minimized the child-form and did four renditions in different positions. I showed the client the three options, but she liked the original form. [We look at child-form options.) Initially I was asking, "How are the figures interacting? What is the relationship between the two?" And in any kind of interaction with water, there's usually some function that's taking place: hathing, drinking, hauling water. I was trying to develop some kind of purpose. Then I got into the mind of the child and thought, there's also playfulness. So I posed some of these options in a posture of playing or receiving the water from the mother.

SS: Had you previously done work for this client?
BB: Yes, she purchased a granite water basin at a show on the island. It was a form (in the basin) based on the Native American raven-head archetype. That happened to be a form that was very significant to her.

SS: Do you feel that kind of communality with her about the large commission piece?
BB: This felt more like a contract She suggested the theme. Also, I wouldn't have chosen to do it as a fountain because of the complexities of adding that element to a sculpture that could stand on its own. The challenge of this job was she wanted me to give her some costs. She wanted me to give her a presentation prior to agreeing to anything beside the general theme. In my first proposals, I presented an 8' heroic size. She said she was thinking of 4' high. Being prepared for that meeting, I showed her what that height would look like at a distance and noted that this piece is going to be seen in perspective. She then agreed to a 6' high piece. I had made a price chart for myself, starting at 3' taIl up to 8' tall. For every one-foot increment, I calculated what price I would charge to carve a sculpture in that size with minimal detail. Then I figured how much I would want for the stone, showing a difference in price for different types of stone (limestone, marble or granite). I made granite the most expensive because it would be the most challenging to carve. Marble was next and finally limestone. Then you have to add all the extra costs including moving a large stone, crating, installation, sitework delivery, etc.

: [We look at Brian's presentation material - a collage of images including a photo of native people with their children and three sculptures in "Native American" style dress.)
BB: The client wanted the piece to have some "native" appearance. I first went for portraying "native mother and child." In the initial meeting, I had the piece bid out as if the two figures were connected as one stone. But she clearly wanted the figures to be separate. The discussion with the client started by her saying she was inspired by "The Water Bears" bronze sculpture in Kirkland, Washington. So that was a lead idea. Then she said she wanted two figures standing by a stream in her yard, which included making the stream. So to go into the meeting and come up with a contract, I went in with several photo montages done with "Photocopy" software, which combined and altered several images to approximate the sculptural proposal in its enviromnent This amazed her. She could show these to her landscape architect This was all done prior to any contract or payment I didn't have a design-phase contract

I came across a retrospective book of the work of Allen Houser. I saw these images and realized this was the artist who has fully captured the inspiration of what this piece could be. He was like a mentor to this commission happening. I have no cultural connection to native people. I needed something to connect me with their art. When I saw his work, it inspired me. That then led to me carving, at the Vancouver Island Symposium, this most recent piece (approximately 20" x 15" x 12" entitled "Proud To Be Me" - a native woman seated with a water urn, wearing beads, and carved from chlorite. This person just "showed up". I didn't do facial studies; I direct-<:arved it. After doing the research around the commission, there was an impression made in me. I just went out and I carved She has that look of being proud to be who she is. I will also use the direct carving approach to this commission instead of pointing up from an exact model.

[The conversation turns to some recent changes in Brian's life.)

BB: My life as an artist bas been very hand-to-mouth. The importance of my story is that when I'm doing my heart's work, it isn't about the money. It's about being happy that I'm able to live and work doing what I love to do. It isn't about how much I'm selling the job for; it's that I'm going to be snpported for the length of time it takes to make this sculpture (a year-long project). Last year was truly a "phoenix" year for me. There have been many "crash-and-burns" along the way. Up until the end of '96, I was basically without a home for six months. I was houseboating. I always had a place to live and sleep. For several years prior to that, I'd been living in other people's homes in creative ways. I was a caretaker or remodeler or I sublet. It was really difficult to move my career forward without a base. It took finding this place and the benevolent landlord I have to obtain a base to operate from. And the day I moved in, he said, "Let's find you a place to work" I've had a year of grace. The studio was built with only one purchased piece of wood. Right after I got started, I was given a barn to take apart which had all the wood I needed.

SS: There seems to be a lot of serendipity going on here in terms of taking your next step in your career as an artist.
BB : Yes, there is something important here. Living as an artist, without any means other than what I create with my hands, it's difficult to meet financial demands. But a friend was asking me about my dream of the life I wanted. I said I want Bainbridge to be my home and communitythe place for me in my career as an artist It was like going to the fortune teller who says good fortune is going to come and then says, "Let me write you a check." My friend said he knew of a place and set up an appointment which led to me living here. And he also donated all the 2x4' s for the shop.

I'm reminded of Bill Moyers interviewing Joseph Campbell and asking about the notion "follow your bliss." I had some pretty dark moments. One day I was channel surfing on tv and came upon Campbell saying something like: "If you go through your life being a good provider and you had artistic inclinations which you didn't express, you'd look back at your life and have regrets. But, if you have artistic interests and you've expressed them, you've made a gift to the world. Live without the money if you have to. Give the gift." That message affirmed my artistic conviction.

SS: How did you transition out of your previous life?
BB: This was my phoenix myth. I had created a marketing business making promotional sportswear and awards. I loved that work I love providing things for people. I love producing things. These were custommade items mostly for nonprofit organizations.

But things fell apart. This involved a three-year litigation with a partner and a debt that drained all the life energy out of me. I didn't want to do anything in business ever again. That was the "dark night." I felt like I had "done it". I had wife and kids, my own home, a successful business. I had done all those things. That life is over. I felt extreme pain and shame about that loss; besides losing the business, my marriage had broken up, I'd left the home, and was estranged from my children. Out of those "ashes," I have been the ouly thing that felt good. I was grieving. I didn't building my life as an artist since '91.

SS: What was your art background and work history? Obviously you had a creative business.
BB: I have no formal training. I'm self taught in most of my handiwork I learn by watching and doing. I took a job at a large pottery eqnipment manufacturing company run by hippies. I fit right in. This was a phenomenal enviromnent They hired me as a welder; I didn't know how to weld. I learned many things by doing. I cast concrete, sandblasted, bent pipe for frames, ran metal lathes, ran a punch press, wired electronic components, and worked in the repair end Eventually I became the purchasing agent, which was one of the most-fun jobs I'd had, with a two-milion-dollar budget to buy parts and material. We were constantly developing new prodncts. It was fascinating to go from an idea to acquiring materials to creating the product - much like sculpting. After seven years, I was eventually offered the General Manager position. At that point I resigned because 1 needed to create my own business. I created a promotional marketing company. We made pictographs, buttons, decals, T-shirts, posters and went into the national gift industry. This eventually became an $800,000 per year business.

SS: When did you start creating art?
BB: The discovery of sculpting and working with stone came out of my unconscious. When my lawsuit ended and I had lost my career, I was deeply depressed and I needed something to do with my son Jay other than watch television. I went into an art supply store where they had a promotion--if you bought the set of riffler files for $35, they gave you 20 lb. of soapstone. Jay and I started carving, day after day at the kitchen table, eight   hours a day, telling stories, making up techniques. Jay returned to school and I kept going. I found it was the most sane thing I could do with my life in that state of mind. It was the only thing that felt good. I was grieving. I didn't  realize how much grief I was holding in my body until I carved a piece called "grieving man." That made me aware that I could express myself artistically. So I sculpted as a healing process for the nexi year and eventually went to my first stone carving symposium in '92. I was totally thrilled to meet others who were into the theraputic nature of sculpting. I wasn't looking at it as making art. I was doing something that was keeping me alive. That was what was reaL I wanted to infuse myself in the stone and see what happened. I carved "The Peace Guardian" in alabaster-a dove in flight protected by a ram with horns. Sculpting became a process of protecting me.

SS: You've been teaching beginning carvers at the various symposia for several years. How do you see the teaching process and yourself as a teacher? [Brian has also been NWSSA symposium coordinator for Camp Brotherhood and Silver Falls, Oregon, for four years and two years respectively. He has been on the carving faculty for the Whidbey Island Retreat for two years and he will teach "direct carving for beginners" at Camp Brotherhood in the summer of '98.]
BB: I've always enjoyed sharing what I know and am enthused about I also teach at my studio (spring/fall) in weekend sessions. I create a supportive environment that allows people to explore their creativity. My purpose is to share the joy of carving stone.

SS: What is the ideal state in which to do your work?
BB: For me the ideal state is when I become "transparent": the activity is happening and I'm the instrument that makes it happen. All my faculties are engaged in the process, but it's a timeless process--nonrational When days go by like that, I wonder: how did I get this far along? I don't remember going through all the steps to get to the finished sculpture. [We look at several pieces around his home.) Very often when you're working in that direct carving mode, you start with one idea and something else will emerge. You realize where the "energy" is for you - how you are connected to the piece. You realize where you want to take the piece, what direction you want to move in.

[We look at an award-\\imting sculpture in Wenatchee soapstone entitled "The End May Just Be the
Beginning of Something Else" ('94)]. This was another part of the completion process. I was working with the theme of beginnings for a theme show and I started carving fish tails. It was very metaphorical, about endings also being begimtings. I often use what I call "journal in stone" because I write stories about the pieces that are displayed \\ith the piece. These are about how they relate to the phase of my life I was in when I carved the piece. I'm not sculpting just to make salable pieces.

[We look at his "A Shaman's lnitiation"-a head form combined "ith a bird/raven head in chlorite, finished dark black] I carved this piece after spending a week with a Siberian shaman trying to understand shamanism. The sculpture illustrates the transformation into the shamanic world. [We talk about his "functional art." He has created an array of stone vases, puzzles, and necklaces. He talks about how his experiments with interlocking puzzle pieces and vase forms led to smaller "tantric beads" with interlocking stone elements which he makes in a series for shows. He also shows me his sculptural "perfume bottle" designed to hold and dispense fragrant oils.]

SS: What percentage of your work is the more functional art?
BB: Maybe 20 percent That will be different this year with the commission.

[We go out to his studio and talk about his 7' high, 1800 lb., granite form, entitled "Mudra: Peace Monument: and slated to show at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show. His initial plan was for a piece with minimal shaping, taking advantage of the natural stone shape. He then considered working it horizontally and adding leg elements. The most recent idea is to develop it more fully as a composition: an abstract fignre in dancer posture, incorporating the mudra hand gesture.]

SS: How do you use the direct carving approach with a piece this big?
BB: I work around the piece as though it were a smaller piece. As I work, there is an internal inspiration about what to do. If I think about the monumental significance of the piece, that tends to suppress the creativity of the moment. With direct carving, there is always a "dance" between plamting and inspiration in the moment in which the piece evolves. Ideas "show up" along the way that enhance the design. I'm working for something that resonates with me. I ask, "Does it please my eye? Does it say something to me which correlates to something meaningful?"

Working large in the direct mode is a way of saying, "Here I am," in a way that can't be hidden. And it's part of my evolution of emerging from the cocoon of self healing. It's not important that I "understand" what I'm creating right away.

SS: Thank, Brian.

Artist Spotlight - Candyce Garrett


a water fountain by Candyce Garrett


Candyce_at_the_wheel_of_her_favorite_toolThis granite sculpture was installed by Candace at the entrance of the Santa Fe Farmers Market building in the recently refurbished Rail Yard Complex in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She was asked by the organizers of the Farmers Market to make a granite fountain for a newly completed building. Candyce immediately went to work on designs.


After receiving enthusiastic approval for her model she began the work at her winter studio in South Texas. That’s where she keeps her TH-83 forklift “The best tool ever,” as well as an over-head crane, and other various and sundry pieces of equipment needed for moving the massive stones she is noted for using in her sculpture.


Replenishing_The_EarthThe design she had selected for Replenishing the Earth required stacking stone up to 11 feet, 3 inches. And since Candyce works alone it took her four and a half months to complete. The fastening together of all the pieces required fifty 7/8 inch stainless pins. After the assembly, Candyce took it all apart, loaded it onto her 20 foot long flatbed truck. Then it was off to the Farmer’s Market in Santa Fe where it became permanent part of the landscape on a warm, sunny morning in June of 2008.

Artist Spotlight - Michael Gardner


By Michael Gardner

MikeHEADSHOTEditors’ note: While it may be true that Michael is a beginner at stone carving, he is no fledgling in the art world. Michael routinely adorns human skin with amazing creatures of his own design at the Tattoo Garden on 2nd street in Everett, Washington.



The sculpture "Midnight kill" has waited a long time to be done. I've been carrying around the stone for fifteen years, since college actually. I believe I was told that it was soapstone when I first acquired it, but if it is soapstone, it doesn't act like it. This is actually the first sculpture that I've done since my college years. I finally had the time to tackle it in the summer of 2008 and with a small kit of soft stone tools and a lot of sandpaper I went to work.


Midnight_KillI had always envisioned the sculpture to be more abstract, like just the dorsal fin of some sea creature but when I actually put the stone on the bench, I just couldn't find it again. My normal start to any sculpture is just to find a main curve or direction in the stone and start removing material to reinforce it. That's one reason that I do a lot of my initial removal by hand, because it gives me time to continually look at the shape that's developing.


Eventually, I got enough of a rough shape that I needed to step back and really figure out what it was. I think that in this instance, my lack of any outside influence (or real experience for that matter) worked to my advantage. Since I wanted a flush, dynamic fit to the base I decided to do a plaster cast of the bottom of the sculpture and then carve the resulting block of plaster into the shape that I wanted. I then painted and sealed the base. It's certainly not a perfect piece but it was a wonderful learning experience. I hope that you all enjoy it.

Michael T. Gardner

Artist Spotlight - Heltsley


By Jim Heltsley

head_shot_JimIn recent years I have pretty much worked on smaller pieces mostly made from Gary McWilliams Alaskan Stone. I have found that these pieces sell well in today’s market. Since Gary’s stones are usually amazing in color & pattern the finished sculptures are greatly enhanced by their use.

 One such piece pictured is “Dune Watcher.” The stone is a vibrant red marble with a layer of blackish/green and grey margins. After looking at the raw stone’s broken edge I began to see the backbone & tail of a lizard running from top to bottom. This worked out pretty well and thankfully, starting with an amazing stone resulted in a very nice carving.

Dune_Watcher_marble_9_highAs of the first of this year I’ve moved from my Edmonds house/studio to West Seattle and I am currently trying to set up to carve again. I want to thank all those NWSSA members for their help and support this last month.


Artist Spotlight - Simone Weber-Luckham

About myself:

I was born and raised in Solothurn Switzerland. I always liked making things; my mother was very creative and our family traveled throughout Europe. My creativity was encouraged and developed further through my later school years at a Waldorf School, where I graduated. That's where I got hooked on stone. I needed to make a hand mill for a graduation paper. I bought some marble from the local stone sculptor, borrowed some tools from school and set to work in my parent's garage. The mill turned out great and produced some fine flour.

I really enjoyed the challenge I felt while trying without any guidance - to shape these two stones into a mill. In Europe you can learn to be a professional stone sculptor by taking an apprenticeship program and this is what I did.


The apprenticeship included art school and on-thejob training, the latter meaning working nine-hour days! The first two years of the apprenticeship was completely hand tool work, to cultivate an intimate knowledge of the tools and materials. This "handson" education gave me a great foundation to work from. I was able to work with different materials and learn everything, from sculpting relief and three-dimensional work, to making gold foil and lead lettering to making my own forged tools. In art school I was taught, among other stone-related topics, basic design principles, calligraphy, architecture, and basic geology, as well as bookkeeping for small businesses.


After receiving my papers as a "Steinbildhauerin", I spent a year traveling in North America, particularly Canada, where I met my husband. I finished my travels and went back to Switzerland to continue working as a Professional Sculptress, but returned to Canada to marry and settle on Thetis Island, a small Gulf Island off Vancouver Island, British Columbia.


Since then, my husband and I have built my studio and our house and had two children, now 4 and 9 years old. I home school my children which doesn't leave much time to sculpt. But right now my family is more important to me and I feel I still will have enough time to sculpt once they have left home. So for now, I get to sculpt like a maniac one day a week while our neighbor comes and teaches the kids.

I have been an instructor at the first three Canadian Symposia, and two Symposia on Whidbey Island, as well as the organizer of the Canadian Symposia for the last two years -all of which have been sponsored by the NWSSA. I have enjoyed the opportunity to share and learn from the other sculptors I have met through this forum. I think the NWSSA is a valuable organization for exchange and support for both the beginner and professional sculptor.


About my work:

In my work, I enjoy the challenge of bringing the tender images which live within my mind out of pieces of stone, I work primarily with marble, granite, and sandstone. I would describe my work as being playful, having simple flowing forms, open to interpretation, portraying feelings and moods. Commissioned works are exact and precise, portraying the client's ideas rather than mine. Aspects of my life are also reflected in my work, such as: energetic, analytical, independent, practical, philosophical, and spiritual. I am a practical sculptress, less is often more for me. I consider my work well thought out and disciplined, more calculated than free form. I use texture rather than detail, and prefer form in place of polish.

How I go about my work:

Most often I get ideas from the shape of the stone. If you look at the picture of the "Zephyros", the flat side was already in the stone, all I had to do was to make it smooth

and polish it. If I don't get any ideas from the stone I sometimes will take a big hammer and bang some corners off: this will change the shape enough so I can see something in it.


Of course, if I have a commission I work differently. Ifit has to be something specific, I make a model out of clay and produce a plaster of paris mold and positive from it so the customer can approve it before I cut into the stone. Otherwise I will simply sketch the design on the stone and start to work. I also do commissions for grave markers and because I don't sandblast them they all look unique. For this work I use the air hammer to chisel out the letters and relief, but it takes practice to get those letters all straight doing it free hand!


I prefer working with hand tools, although they scem to be slower than the power tools. I can work with hand tools all day, whereas the power tools are very strenuous for my body and I have to quit much earlier than with hand tools.


The tools I use are different from what most people here are using. I have a big round wooden mallet similar to the carpenters mallet but bigger (it weighs about 2 pounds). I also have a big bushing hammer which I use for all kinds of things. Because I can't find these kinds of tools here I get them specially from Europe.


I have recently been given a few chunks of stone and I didn't recognize what they were, even after working with them. I found out, thanks to George Pratt, that they are onyx. I found it to be very different to work with; it would flake rather than chip and was very unpredictable. At the beginning I was very careful not to work it too thin, but then I got bolder and found out that that I can work it quite thin.

This spring I won a public art competition for the Municipality of Whistler. You can see the material waiting to be worked on in the picture of my studio (photo above left). That's what I am working on right now. It is a wheelchair accessible drinking fountain made out of Vancouver Island marble, standing about three feet tall and measuring three and a half feet long. It will be installed in Whistler in the spring of 2000.


One thing I would like to mention is the size of my studio: it measures about 10' x 10 '. Why do I mention this? Because so often people imagine all sculptors have these great big places to work in and exhibit their work. Sometimes one feels like you can't create without a big work area, but although I must admit it is nice to have space - it is not necessary in order to create beautiful work. Heres to all of us who work in a garage, the basement or the re-modeled wood shed next to our house!


Happy sculpting,

Simone Weber-Luckham

Artist Spotlight - Vic Picou September/October l999

The following is both an interview with Vic Picou and a call for a new "Director of Symposia". Over the years since the group's first "gathering" in 1987, Vic has emerged as an invaluable contributor to the growth, development and maintenance of NWSSA and its four yearly symposia. He has been at the literal center of the group, being a past President of the Board for several years and running its office from his home. He's the one who answered those phone calls at all hours. At the same time he has directed and helped develop the symposia we currently offer.

All of this was done in the midst of a professional life as a Physician Assistant, and an active sculptor. Vic shows and sells his work regularly, has produced a major monumental work ("Moonflower" installed at Group Health Capitol Hill Seattle) and is an avid creator. He is currently completing a sculpture of St. Thomas for a church in L.A. (to be installed in a niche 60' up).


To me Vic epitomizes the spirit of this group. He is a collaborative, invitational, "people" person with a big heart who has given in uncountable ways to the life of this group, while doing his own art. He personally portrays the positive values of the group and has been instrumental in establishing them by example. He seems to always be encouraging others in their art and has a wellspring of enthusiasm. For all that, I want to offer appreciation and thanks.


Vic will be moving to California in about two years. He needs to reduce his NWSSA responsibilities by about 50%. This means he will "only" be able to manage the CB symposium and we need a committed person to be our new Director of Symposia (DOS). This person will work with symposia managers and support them as they develop and run the individual events. These include Whidbey Island Workshop, WA (3 day hand carving retreat), Silver Falls Symposium, OR (5 days), Camp Brotherhood Symposium, WA 00 days), and Camp Columbia Symposium, Thetis Island, B.C., Canada (5 days). (I encourage all to read/re-read the July/August NWSSA newsletter for multiple perspectives on the qualities of these symposiums.)


Vic and I start to talk about his work as DOS:


VP: I've got a responsibility to the Board of Directors, and to the membership. In actualizing that responsibility there are many activities. We developed a set of "symposium guidelines" (eight members met for hours, five years ago). It's my responsibility to make sure those guidelines are followed. Each fall, the separate symposium committees begin to look at how they'll do their program for the following year. They evaluate the last event, decide on faculty, and establish an approximate budget for the next year. I put all the separate budgets together and present this to the Board at the first of the year.


SS: How do you relate to the managers of each symposium?

VP: For example, a year ago, Mark Andrew agreed to direct the Silver Falls Symposium, and I approved that. I drove to the site with Mark and laid out the job description to him and set the tone for the development of his committee. Then he took over from there, using the guidelines (an explanation of the basic structure and requirements) to develop and work with his local committee.


After that, it was a matter of staying in contact frequently, to check how it was going, asking who do you have to help you?, what can I do to help you?, be snre to snbmit your budget by deadline, and so on. So it's monitoring and supporting on a month-to-month basis. Helping him with the content of the brochure and coordination the design, etc. (whatever he needs help with).


We've had four symposiums in each of the last five years. Prior to that we had only one. It's continned to grow. and we've had a lot of tum-over of rna nagers. All this has been challenging. If someone new comes on, I need to travel (to Vancouver Island or Oregon) to train them. (Vic doesn't necessarily attend each symposium.) I needed to attend Silver Falls this year, as it was Mark's first time and I wanted to help.


Now, Lloyd Whannell has managed the Whidbey retreat for tlrree years and will continue, and Simone Weber-Luckham has managed the Camp Columbia Symposium for two years; they both have experience now and do a good job, so that means little supervision.


In the Fall, my job is to make sure that the committees are getting things stirred up.

SS: How much do you participate in the content of each symposium?

VP: Very little. As long as they follow the guidelines I'm happy. Selection (of faculty) has to be done by committee. It's like raising a family: sometimes you don't know what you're going to have to do each day. One major concern is learning to delegate, on all levels.


Publicity, which takes place in winter, now includes a global perspective; using the internet which has proved to be a wonderful thing for us. We've had a number of people contact us because of the NWSSA website.


The Board has recently created the Symposium M~magement Committee. As Director of Symposia, I felt I had a lot of authority, work and responsibility, too much for one person. I wanted more people in on the decisions about how we should manage things. They share authority with me.


I am redefining what I'm doing here. I hope that every year I'm alive I'll be at Camp Brotherhood Symposium, carving stone, directing it, but I want to be there! Because of my plans to move, I need to change my involvement. That's fair to me and to everyone.


SS: Are you investigating other symposium possibilities?

VP: As I've told the Board, I'd like to be part of development of Pacific Rim activity for us, in my retirement. Camp Brotherhood has always been titled an international symposium. So, I could be part of developing some of that scale, like in China, Hawaii, Japan, Viet Nam, or Mexico. We're making contacts in those directions, though nothing is established. My focus for the group would be to do some research and development for other activities for us - for those people who want to go to another country and carve and have an international exchange. I love this development.


SS: From its origins, the events seem to evolve and grow every year.

VP: We've established four significant events. Within that development we've established significant relationships with vendors, with the art community, and with other institutions. The University of Oregon offers credit for the Camp Brotherhood symposium. (There are only two in the country which offer university credit.) We've established a high level of respect and trust among sculptors all over: Japan, across the US, Canada. We're continually getting people from all over.


As far as my vision of it goes, we've all "visioned" it. We've had wonderful input from the individuals that come to us about the structure of the symposium. My role in that has certainly been a key role. The most important thing I always strive to maintain is to have a high quality time for people. It's not "the Association" in bright lights, it's the "individual" in bright lights. We're setting a stage for you to come and be yourself, to be in a trusting environment, to be creative and be supported.


So, as we bring in certain instructors, or develop the program, Of the evening events, we continually keep in mind that we're there for the individual person.


VP: The way I try to manage the committee is to continue to bring in new people to help develop it and give input. Yesterday we had a follow-up meeting from Camp Brotherhood in which four of us on the committee had read every critique. We looked at what worked and what didn't. It was a nice two hour debriefing.


To review our history, we started out for three days in 1987 and 1989. I came on the Board in 1988 and was President in six months. I started managing that second symposium. Since we were a small group, the office and everything was at my home.


When I got the critiques from the second symposium, Tamara Buchanan said three days is not enough, we need a whole week, but we don't want to camp out for the whole week. That's when we started looking beyond the Beyer ranch in the Methow Valley, Eastern Wash. About 30 people were attending at that time. We carnped out and bathed in the river.


About six months later I found Camp Brotherhood while out on a drive. In a few weeks the entire Board came up to see it early in 1990. So, we did a seven day event in 1990 and 1991. We then did 10 days for two years. Then once for 14 days in 1994 and people felt it was too long. We then came back to a 10 day format. In the overall vision, we were trying to give people a long enough time to settle in. Ten days

seems to work.


Every year we make changes. But, we try not to change too much. This year we had the power on some evenings for carving, which worked out well. In the overall perspective, we try to understand what the sculpture community's needs are. The initial objective in '87 was to camp out, carve stone, and have a good time. We brought our own food. We learned.


In subsequent gatherings there was an increasing expectation for this to be a sculpture "school in the woods" (teaching each other). People were invited to teach different topics.


In '91 Vasily Fedorouk came (from the Ukraine) as part of the Goodwi II Games. This opened us even more to entertaining people internationally. So it's been an ever-expanding bubble. As it grew, there seemed to be a synergistic movement in which people wanted to teach and share what they knew. This illustrated the meaning of "symposium" as a sharing of ideas.


Subsequently, we had tool and stone experts come out. So tile educational aspect has been a big push. We have to contain that somewhat because we have to think about the individual person who's coming here to carve, and not be faced with a schedule of workshops all day long. We try to balance this.


We're trying to meet the needs of those who are just learning, people we might meet through the Flower and Garden Show. Or people who come to us from the Whidbey Island experience, from a strictly hand tooling experience, and want to get a broader in-depth experience in one of the larger symposiums. So we always have a well supported beginners program. For others who want something more advanced, we bring in instructors with specialized workshops.


So who is this "one person" we want to keep in mind? They may be 80 years old. They may be eight. We ask, how can we support that "person"? How do we give them a quality experience, welcome them, and send them away enriched? And we do that.


SS: How do you speak to the needs of the more advanced sculptors?

VP: We have a number of members who are active professional sculptors, who've shown to the art community, they've done it. They know how to do it and how to talk about it. We have those people on board to rub shoulders with. Just to be in their presence, to know them, to understand what they've done, to work with them and to see them work.


All this is really important to me. I guess that's why I've done it.


SS: Why is it important to you?

VP: I feel that more than any community I've been part of, the sculptors' community is so tangible and fulfilling. It's very nurturing. This is like my family. I see the important rolc I'vc had in it and the important role it's had in me. So to divorce from that doesn't seem right. I see myself reducing my involvement by 50% in 2000.


We will bring on another person to be Director of Symposia. We want to identify someone to be my assistant to !cam the job. It would be a bridging process over a two year collaborative effOIt.


We need someone who is willing to commit to a long term involvement as a leader in the symposium process, at least for the next few years. Someone with skills in networking with groups, planning art events Of workshops. Someone with a passion for the stone. Someone who has the time and the passion to do this. Someone who's flexible, who understands the symposium concept. It is a paid position (a stipend is negotiated with the Board).


It is going to be important to find the right person. It's going to be a very timely thing. Also, we'll be looking for another member of the Camp Brotherhood Committee.



SS: Many heartfelt thanks, Victor!