Posts Tagged ‘Sculpture’

Scaffolding Exhibition Opening

Please join us for the opening of Scaffolding!

Scaffolding curated by Greg Barton, examines the extraordinary applications of scaffolding as a kit-of-parts technology to provide novel forms of inhabitation and access. Through an installation designed by Shohei Shigematsu and OMA New York with graphic design by MTWTF, Scaffolding will disrupt the architectural space of the Center for Architecture, instilling a new appreciation of scaffolding and its transformative potential.

Of particular interest to our local New York City audience, scaffolding is a flexible and accessible system hiding in plain sight. Despite its indispensable link to architecture, scaffolding is too often maligned as a necessary nuisance. The exhibition demonstrates how this simple construction technology lends itself to compelling installations, positioning it as a pragmatic tool for radical architecture and civic engagement.

There are an estimated 280 miles of scaffolding occupying New York City at any given time; it is something pedestrians encounter every day. How might we begin to imagine alternative uses and appreciate it anew?

Exhibition Curator: Greg Barton
Exhibition Designer: OMA
Exhibition Graphics: MTWTF

2017 Carrara Residency Update

Now in its 6th year, the ABC Stone-sponsored Carrara Residency Merit Award is cultivating a future for the artistic practice of traditional stone carving. Based at Corsanini Studios, located at the foothills of Apuan Alps, the Carrara Residency exposes students to the global art world, helps them cultivate lifelong relationships, and hone their craft in an immersive environment.

The 2017 Carrara Residents are Jorge Vascano and Christina Giuffrida. They spent 4 weeks at Corsanini Studios learning this craft from master mentor and professional sculptor, Stephen Shaheen. The works they started realizing in Italy will be shipped back to the States for completion and will be unveiled and on view at ABC’s Residency celebration coming in March 2018.

Past Merit Award recipients have gone on to work for esteemed sculptors Barry X Ball, Jeff Koons, & Barbara Segal among others.

“Le Poids de mes Ambitions” and “Y Train”, sculptures created by 2016 Merit Award recipients, Brice Esso and Jiannan Wu will be on view and up for auction at Sotheby’s during the New York Academy of Art fundraiser, Take Home a Nude, on October 11th. For further information and tickets:


New York Academy of Art requests the honor of your presence at the 2017 Tribeca Ball!

Guests will have the opportunity to explore all six floors of the historic Franklin Street building that houses NYAA, while visiting with 110 MFA artists in their studios over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Dinner guests move on to an elegant meal prepared by renowned chef Daniel Boulud. With live entertainment, and surprises around every corner, the evening is guaranteed to dazzle even the most inveterate partygoer. ABC would be delighted if you’d join us in attending!

Your support will directly impact the Academy’s scholarships and educational programming, allowing it to fulfill its mission of training the most talented emerging artists in the skills and techniques essential to the creation of vital contemporary art.

For tickets visit:

In Conversation: Ross Matteson and “Peregrine’s Plate”

Peregrine’s Plate (2016)

Growing up with five siblings in a Pacific Northwest United States family that supported exploration, multicultural exposure, knowledge of current world affairs, creativity, scientific and religious education, Olympia, WA-based sculptor Ross Matteson’s life has always included some form of adventure and imaginative experimentation. Last year, Ross purchased a 1,600 pound custom cut block of Belgian Black marble from ABC Stone. His aim: to create on commission a large plate-shaped sculpture depicting a duck hunt.

After familiarizing himself with the particular species of duck endemic to the area in which the finished sculpture would be displayed, observing and taking thousands of photographs of the bird, and consulting with duck hunters, Ross set to work on his project. Using both CNC technology and traditional sculpting tools, he produced his sculpture:
Peregrine’s Plate.

The density and integrity of ABC’s marble was up to the challenge of what might be regarded as a “pushing” of the material: the finished weight of the sculpture is four-hundred pounds, but it is exquisitely finely wrought and delicate. “After it was complete,” says Ross, “when I tapped lightly on each open wing of the central bird in the composition with my finger, they rang like bells! There was even a beautiful harmonic resonance between the two. Fortunately, everyone else had the wisdom not to even get close to touching those wings!”

We recently had a chance to speak with Ross about
Peregrine’s Plate, his career as a sculptor, his creative process, and how he came to select ABC’s Belgian Black marble for this project. (Read to the very end for an amazing photo gallery documenting the process by which Ross created his sculpture!)

ABC Stone: How would you describe yourself?

Ross Matteson: I like to think of myself as a community builder, often using visual art to help bring people together around shared values. I am fearless about addressing big issues (social equality; politics; religion; education; the environment; agriculture) and seeking originality, beauty and potential where others may not.

ABC: When did you begin making sculptures?

RM: From childhood. Full-time, professionally: from 1987.

ABC: How did you determine the size and density of the block you would need, and how did you decide upon the material Belgian Black?

RM: A finished, quality piece of this marble can look like black glass, only with an organic lifelike warmth about it. It is a rare, beautiful and prestigious material. The site specific requirements of this particular indoor entryway sculpture dictated the dimensions. I was blessed with clear renderings of an exquisite architectural setting along with an intelligent plan to place a sculptural focal point just inside the doorway on a predetermined round table. I knew that the table would be seven feet in diameter, allowing for me to propose a centered, relatively delicate “subject relevant” concept of a smaller diameter to the broker and client. The line of sight through the building from the front door looks out onto a beautiful landscape, including a large migratory duck pond. The logical subject, in this context, was three ring-necked ducks in a flooded corn field where much of the collector’s duck hunting occurs.

The narrative in the visually active composition that I imagined is that these ducks are panicking and moving in response to a natural predator. I decided that this unseen predator was to be a peregrine falcon since, as a falconer, I hunt ducks with peregrine falcons and am familiar with the defense behavior of ducks when falcons are above them. One of my ducks had to be taking flight with his wings up to add drama to my story while still honoring, and not blocking, the beautiful view through the glass walls to the pond and landscape. I knew that to carve thin wings of a duck, on the upstroke, would necessitate a very dense and reliable block of stone, and a lot of removed stone. The challenge was that I didn’t know if this larger block of stone that would be required was available, or if it even existed. My proposal was contingent on finding a supplier with a very high level of confidence and integrity.

ABC: How long did it take to create the sculpture?

RM: This is always a difficult question and some sculptors I know give their age, when asked! I was first approached with this opportunity in February of 2016. A contract was finalized in April. My custom quarried and cut stone was ordered in May, arrived in September and the finished piece was delivered in December. I would have preferred a year of carving time, but this is true for all my pieces.

ABC: How did you learn about ABC Stone?

RM: I did an exhaustive internet search for existing Belgian Black marble blocks of the desired size, without success. An intern of mine asked Jonathan LaFarge, her former instructor at the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in West Rutland, Vermont, for ideas. He referred me to ABC Worldwide Stone, and you, fortunately, have direct access to the Belgian Black quarry.

When I first got involved with the possibility of buying this really expressive piece of stone, I was pretty uncomfortable. If the stone hadn’t proved to be the right density and integrity for my purposes, this would have been a huge liability. My daughter happened to be in New York at the time and I sent her to meet Ken at ABC after he and I began to correspond. She attended one of your events and was treated very nicely and, frankly, this was an important part of me doing business with ABC Stone. (*laughs*)

ABC: Why do you feel that your sculpture constituted a “pushing” of the material?

RM: Belgian Black is hard, brittle and expensive. A poorly chosen stone has been described by one of my colleagues as “downright explosive.” It just so happens that the meaning and “action” in my piece is explosive/ panicked/moving — but not in pieces on the floor! Bringing visual motion to a cohesive inanimate object is a simple idea but difficult goal. One of the ways I approach visual motion in the poses and lyricism of my compositions is by staying alert to the difference between “potential motion” and “frozen motion.” I think that many artists would agree that elegance can require a high level of craftsmanship. There was no room for error in executing this piece given some of the thin, polished and unsupported forms.

Much of my carving time was spent in thought or in conducting tests. I had to pre-engineer what tools to use along the sequence of cutting and polishing my stone. Open wings and extended heads all had posts or bridges of stone connected to them until the very last part of the carving process. In addition, an elaborate device was invented for lifting the finished sculpture.

ABC: Would you give us a rundown of your creative process.

RM: Most of what I really do when carving a sculpture is to stare at both the material and reference and just think. I am always learning about the vastness of a three-dimensional surface. I am not satisfied easily and my self-critique is brutal, but usually very internal and private. Memories sometimes help synthesize a needed refinement or satisfaction with what is there. In other words, I trust a memory of how an escaping duck made me feel more than a video, photograph, or taxidermied reference. The reason is simple: a feather is not a piece of marble. Everything needs to work with the time, materials, tools, lighting and experience at hand. Being around people such as Ken, the art broker, architect, or collector on this project, who are passionate about a subject, material, or tool that I am working with, is a crucial part of the community responsible for helping bring my original ideas to light. On a piece like Peregrine’s Plate, I initially sculpt a maquette as reference. In this project, it was very helpful to create a life-sized model.

I work to understand the potential of each material I use and, as I mentioned, also enjoy support from family, a rich network of colleagues, subcontractors, and suppliers that rally around unique ideas worthy of community support. Distracted, childlike observations of the world around me continually spawn metaphors. One example is an intersecting wave pattern in front of a swimming Bufflehead duck resulting in a sculpture titled Ripple Effect. Another example, in Peregrine’s Plate, is the drakes opening wings thoughtlessly knocking the hen’s head to the side in the panic of the escape. I think that such metaphors, often inspired by the natural world, come to light because I care about their relevance to humanity. I love making site-specific art that may be sensitive to design factors in a commission, but that is also inspiring to me, relevant over time and draws from a wide choice of incredibly rich and diverse permanent media available. Of course, making anything to last for centuries, (let alone, to be cared about by generations of owners) is a pretty good challenge!

“Enduring Grace” is a signature goal of mine. It transcends cliché art categories such as “Wildlife Artist,” or “Contemporary Artist,” and can better represent any art that is unique, but meaningful across both time and culture. Over many centuries, Belgian Black marble has already proved its cross-cultural appeal. In the finished sculpture, Peregrine’s Plate, it was structurally and aesthetically foundational to my goal of expressing what I hope will be considered relevant, beautiful, and graceful over many years.

Peregrine’s Plate (2016)
by Ross Matteson
Olympia, WA
Belgian Black marble
37” diameter by 14” high
private collection
photos courtesy of Matteson Sculpture studio

Transitioning from the music recording industry, which was his first career path after graduating from the Evergreen State College, Ross has been practicing sculpture for the last twenty-seven years and has had his work appear in over 150 shows. His sculptures are in the permanent collections or have been exhibited in such museums as the Woodson Art Museum (Wausau, WI), the National Museum of Wildlife Art (Jackson, WY), the Gilcrease Museum (Tulsa, OK), the Natural History Museum (London, United Kingdom), the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (Oklahoma City, OK), the Bennington Center for the Arts (Bennington, VT), other museums around the country for shows sponsored by the “Society of Animal Artists” (New York, NY), and in numerous commercial galleries, private, corporate and public collections around the world.

To learn more about Ross, and his work, visit

Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter’s Salling Tower in Aarhus, Denmark (from Architectural Record)

1606-Hospitality-Snapshot-Salling-Tower-01On the east coast of the Jutland Peninsula, Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter has created a striking landmark for Aarhus, the second-largest Danish city: a sculptural white tower cantilevered over the bay. With two observation decks, which can be accessed by an elevator or wide staircase that doubles as seating, it provides different perspectives on the harbor and city—a major center for trade, shipping, and industrial activity. VIEW THIS ARTICLE at Architectural Record.

An evening to honor the recipients of the 2015 Carrara Residency Merit Award

For the past 5 years, ABC Worldwide Stone, in cooperation with New York Academy of Art, has sponsored a stone sculpting Artist Residency in Carrara, Italy, as part of its ongoing commitment to promoting the use of stone in artistic practice. Based at Corsanini Studios, located at the foothills of Apuan Alps, the Carrara Residency exposes students to the global art world, helps cultivate lifelong relationships, and hone their craft in an immersive environment.

On April 20th, The Carrara Residency celebration and unveiling was held at ABC Stone’s Brooklyn showroom and warehouse to honor the 2015 recipients of the Merit Award, Marco Palli and Joshua Henderson.

Trained in Civil Engineering and Business administration, Marco Palli has always seen the world in a mathematical way. A multidisciplinary artist, Marco found his way to sculpture after pursuing in-depth explorations into music and literature. Palli describes his creative process as “Meditating about happiness.” At this year’s celebration, Marco unveiled his sculpture Transparent to transcendence, which he characterizes as a conceptual self-portrait. “The piece revisits my own culture,” he says, “exposes my roots as a Catholic man who has perhaps lost his own identity.”

Joshua Henderson was born in 1986 as one of seven siblings, in a small town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. After studying art at Southern Utah University, and receiving his BFA in 2013, he attended the New York Academy of Art, where he received an MFA with a focus on sculpture. He is a two-time recipient of the Carrara Residency Merit Award. 1st Witness, which was unveiled at the celebration, is part of a series of ten stone carvings which he describes as, “expressing the two-sided nature of things that brings us comfort.”

Other esteemed artists on view included Barry X Ball, Stephen Shaheen, Barbara Segal, Michael Kukla, and Alasdair Thomson.

We would like to thank Wild Dogs International ( for the spectacular projections and lighting they provided, the band ZS ( for the stellar performance and DJ set, Elliot Goldstein ( for perfectly capturing the festivities with immense style and aplomb, and our amazing wine sponsor for the second year running, Maison Belle Clare (

Collective Memory: Memorials in Urban Placemaking

ARK of  RETURN_10 resized (2)_9324What goes into the task of designing memorials and public spaces to inspire an experience specific to memory and a moment in history? What social and cultural impulses lead us to create places to return to, where we remember an event? How are architects transforming memorials from figurative sculptural objects to conceptual abstractions that represent specific experiences?

Architects Rodney Leon and Claire Weisz share their vision and design processes for urban commemorative spaces. Rodney Leon will speak about creating two culturally sensitive and deeply significant New York City memorials, The Ark of Return – Permanent Memorial at the United Nations in Honor of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and the African Burial Ground National Monument. Claire Weisz will share WXY architecture + urban design’s perspective on the revitalization of Downtown Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza and the Brooklyn War Memorial, along with her firm’s work at the Battery, where monuments have been re-sited and restored.

Speakers: Rodney Leon, AIA, NOMA, Principal, Rodney Leon Architects PLLC
Claire Weisz, FAIA, Founding Partner, WXY architecture + urban design

Moderator: Monica Aliaga-Laud, AIA, Principal, MAAD Studio