Connections: Sabbatical 1998 • Forward

Man on fire - Jose Orozco; Photo Credit: Tony Paterson

The direction that my sabbatical took was the result of my first being exposed to Orozco's work at the Dartmouth College Library. As a child, I was originally very much influenced by Van Gogh's work. After seeing Orozco's work, I felt a strong pull toward the Mexican muralists. At the time Orozco was still living. I promised myself that someday I would travel to Mexico and become a Mexican muralist.

In 1953 while still in high school, I hitchhiked to Mexico to study mural painting, drawing and sculpture for the summer, at the University of Guadalajara. I received my first instruction in sculpture from O. Arizmendi. She was a very wiry diminutive woman who taught me to execute a kneeling male figure in direct plaster. It was in the style of Aristide Maillol. I studied mural painting with M. Medina who resembled the striding Aztec's in Orozco's mural at Dartmouth College. My mural was in the style of Rufino Tamayo's. I still have the cartoon. I studied landscape Painting with D. Mendelowitz who only permitted me to draw. After much begging he gave me a box of crayons that he would pass out to the local children. He said "See what you can do with these." I still have these studies and they look like little fauve paintings. This experience was to become a strong influence on my development as a sculptor. I realized that I was a product of this continent. The pre-Columbian sculpture, architecture, and painting left an indelible impression on me. Diego Rivera was still alive and I saw many of his last works in Mexico City shortly after they were finished. I saw the Chapultepec Park water distribution paintings that were done with experimental paints before they failed. I also saw and revisited the wonderful mosaic work he did for both the University of Mexico Stadium and the theatre in Mexico City.

In 1961, 1 traveled to Mexico with my wife for a week to revisit and share with her my enthusiasm for Mexico. We were at the bullring when Hemingway's death was announced. At this time, l promised myself that I would return someday to see all of Mexico. I had only explored the areas around Mexico City and Guadalajara.

In Connections, I concentrate on those aspects of my trip that directly relate to my development as a sculptor. I experienced much more than may be apparent in this report. In the time sequence of the reports, I interject experiences and observations relating to other subjects such as the Mexican muralists, colonial, environmental, geographical, and historical aspects of my trip. The part of my report titled Time and Directional Sequence can be interpreted as a limited diary of my travels. The use of photos and videotapes are an integral part of this report.