a sculpture collaboration with Ray Bradbury
limited edition bronze
My current project is "Fr. Electrico", a sculpture collaboration with Ray Bradbury, an author known for his novels, short stories and verse, stage plays, screenplays and television scripts.
The three-foot tall version has won the Gold Medal for sculpture at the California Art Club’s 97th Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. I am now sculpting the composition on a heroic scale, with an overall height of 8-feet.
The frontal view of the finished sculpture “Fr. Electrico,” depicts a father carrying his son. Turn the sculpture around and the image of the father is in reality Bradbury's "Illustrated Man," a character taken from his classic novel about a tattooed man. When the "Illustrated Man" sweats his tattoos come to life and tell their stories. In keeping with this, the muscles of the back of the sculpture turn into twisting figures, some taken from Ray's stories, others are my own images taken from conversations with Ray.
The concept of the sculpture comes from one of the Ray’s childhood memories. My life-size bronze "Pieta" at Mission San Diego reminded him of his own Pieta. It was an image of his father carrying him home from a very long day, a day spent at two circuses. Knowing Ray Bradbury, you could imagine that one circus, at age 13, would have been heaven. Well, two circuses were total overload and the teenager fell asleep in exhaustion. Despite his thirteen years, Ray’s father carried him the mile and one half home.
As Ray says, the "Illustrated Man" is the metaphor for his creative process and imagination. And just as Ray's biological father literally carried him home, the "Illustrated Man" figuratively carried him through his career.
The title of the piece, "Fr. Electrico," also comes from another of Bradbury’s childhood memories. Ray and I had been trying to come up with a title of the sculpture and late one night, I got a call from him telling me the story of his "creative" father, Mr. Electrico. The real Mr. Electrico was a carnival magician that Ray wrote about in his book, "Something Wicked This Way Comes." The day that Ray spoke with the real Mr. Electrico was his birth as a writer. Mr. Electrico said to the 13-year-old Ray, "Live forever." And I am sure he will!
As the sculptor, the image reflects to me that last comfortable sleep of boyhood in your father's arms. Around the corner lurk those images of adventures and fears that comprise adolescence. This fantasy and delight, tinged with fear and the unknown, is what Ray captures so masterfully in his books. On the sculpture, some of the tattoos of stars creep down the "Illustrated Man"'s arm onto the boy's flesh. This, I feel, is what one experiences when coming into contact with Ray Bradbury.
On another level Ray has become a second father to me, and the sculpture becomes him, with his stories and friendship carrying me. Ray's creativity and friendship picking me up and carrying me is truly one of the most touching things that I have experienced in my life.
The sculptures are each limited edition bronzes and include the original 12 inch maquette, a 3 foot tall version and the heroic 8 foot tall version. Casts of the illustration are also available. The sculpting of the 8 foot version currently is being filmed as a documentary.