“Soul Connection” Installed at SF Zoo

A couple weeks ago, FASCU MFA Van Nguyen unveiled her monument sculpture, “Soul Connection”, within the entry plaza at San Francisco Zoo. Check out the video above to see the piece come together along with comments from the artist, Maquette to Monument class instructor Peter Schifrin, and SF Zoo representative Joe Fitting.

UPDATE! Here’s a short video of the dedication for “Soul Connection” at the SF Zoo, which is now on extended display for a few more months!

Spring Show 2013 Interviews: Gwen Pier and Robin Salmon

We’re a little late getting to these interviews as Spring Show 2013 is now a couple months behind us, but these are definitely worth a watch. National Sculpture Society Executive Director Gwen Pier (above) and Brookgreen Gardens‘ Curator Robin Salmon (below) evaluate the latest offerings from FASCU and suggest potential opportunities for sculptors of all stripes.

FASCU Student Sculpts Wicked Witch of Oz for Museum

Witch hands and head sculpted by TonyaMarie with Michael Poland assisting in mold making and hair punching

Wicked Witch of Oz wax sculpture by FASCU student TonyaMarie

Don’t click your heels and wish yourself home just yet.

The Wicked Witch of the West, sculpted by FASCU’s own TonyaMarie and currently on display at the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf, will only be appearing through this Thursday – after that, she’ll become the stuff of dreams.

“It’s bittersweet,” says TonyaMarie, who has been working for the museum on an internship and just completed the sculpture of the iconic character last week. “The museum has been sold and closes on the 15th, so (the witch) will only be up a few short days.” While nearly the entire assortment of wax sculptures from the 50-year-old venue is being sold to a Los Angeles-based museum, TonyaMarie’s Wicked Witch – as well as the other characters of Oz – will remain in current owner Rodney Fong’s personal collection.

L to R: Costume maker Vincent of Dreamhouse, the Wicked Witch of the West, sculptor TonyaMarie, and Gallery Curator/Director Curtis Huber

L to R: Costume maker Vincent of Dreamhouse, the Wicked Witch of the West, sculptor TonyaMarie, and Gallery Curator/Director Curtis Huber (not pictured: Michael Poland assisted in mold-making and hair-punching)

Finishing a direct study internship to complete her Sculpture MFA at Academy of Art University, TonyaMarie was thrilled at the opportunity to sculpt one of her all-time favorite movie villains. “I had assumed that I would be doing repairs and refurbishing throughout the museum for my internship,” says Marie, who welcomed the opportunity to take on the specialized set of skills required of a wax museum. “When curator Curtis Huber told me he was going to have me sculpt, paint and create the Wicked Witch of the West, I was so excited! I’d not only get to learn the whole process, but also add an important piece to my own portfolio.”

TonyaMarie currently runs Gypsy Cat Studios, which she says has been heavily supported by costume work – from mascot characters to children’s theater companies throughout the Bay Area. It only seems fitting that she would be tasked with creating the head and hands for a character complemented by an equally iconic costume (created for the museum by Vincent of Dreamhouse). Marie also takes pride in her ability to design and create odd and unusual pieces for clients who are having difficulty finding someone to make them. “That is a niche I am known for and I love that type of work,” she says.

While the Wicked Witch may be hidden from view after Thursday, TonyaMarie’s stroll into the Land of Oz looks likely to continue into next year. “I have been contacted by someone for a very large Wizard of Oz event who wants me to design and make the props and costumes for the film’s 75th Anniversary in 2014. Also, Madame Tussauds is moving into the Wax Museum [at Fisherman’s Wharf] next summer, so you never know!”

TonyaMarie’s Wicked Witch sculpture can be viewed through this Thursday at the Wax Museum on 145 Jefferson Street at Fisherman’s Wharf. For any students willing to pull together a few friends, the museum has offered three FREE group passes (six students each) for anyone who wants to stop by the FASCU administration office at the Cannery (just a couple blocks from the museum). First come first served!

The Wizard of Oz wax troupe will only be on display through this Thursday!

The Wizard of Oz wax troupe will only be on display through this Thursday!

1960s Cannery Model Discovered on Third Floor

While recently poking around the vacant third floor of FASCU’s new home at the Cannery, we came across a curious relic nestled into one corner of a seldom-used conference room. An architectural model of the Cannery, which we’ve discovered to be the actual model used during the structure’s 1960s renovation, has apparently survived the last 46 years as a quiet resident of the historical building. We actually found two photos placing the model’s creation in 1965 — first, in the photograph above, then-owner of the Cannery Leonard Martin poses with the model in the gutted-out interior of what would eventually become the current Cannery interior. A second photo (below) betrays what actually survives of the original 1907 Cannery structure: its four outer walls!

We think it’s pretty extraordinary that this model has survived over four decades, complete with the miniature Matchbox cars that can be seen in the ’60s photos. Too bad the empty, toll-free curb parking didn’t translate to the modern day…

Lucas Unveils Noble’s Yoda and Indy Bronzes for New Park

The small North Bay city of San Anselmo recently welcomed two new members to its community thanks to the generosity of resident George Lucas and artistry of Academy of Art University Sculpture Chair Lawrence Noble. Coordinated by Connie Rodgers of the San Anselmo Park Fund (see our previous story here), life-size bronze statues of Yoda and Indiana Jones –characters from Lucas’ Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series – were officially unveiled in a dedication ceremony for a new park in the city’s picturesque downtown district. Imagination Park, which occupies land donated by Lucas, is the new jewel of San Anselmo Avenue, thanks to a tranquil green space and centerpiece fountain topped with Noble’s stunning bronze figures.

George Lucas and FASCU Chair Lawrence Noble at Imagination Park dedication

George Lucas and FASCU Chair Lawrence Noble at Imagination Park dedication (Photo by Pete Vilmur)

“I am pleased as well as honored to have had the opportunity to have sculpted these two American icons and to witness their investment as bronze sculptures into our culture,” says Noble. “As the entire Star Wars Saga was created by George Lucas in San Anselmo, it is both fitting and proper as well as the perfect place for a park in their honor.”

While the park represents the third public installation for the Yoda bronze – the other two occupy Lucasfilm’s Presidio campus and Lucas’ Big Rock Ranch – this is the first and only public display of Noble’s Indiana Jones life-size bronze, which was delivered to Lucas back in 2009. Like the Lost Ark of the Covenant, the bronze was stored in Lucas’ vast archives building until the fateful day when it would be revealed and displayed for all to enjoy.

The bronze pair was unveiled under a bright summer sky by George Lucas himself amid throngs of community members and fans eager to take part in the historical dedication of a place sure to flow strong in the Force for generations to come.

You can visit Imagination Park in San Anselmo at 535 San Anselmo Avenue at Magnolia. To learn more about the park or to donate and have your name immortalized at the park, go to http://sananselmopark.org. Related: Lucasfilm’s Yoda Fountain: A Discussion with the Artist

George Lucas admires the new Indiana Jones bronze by AAU Sculpture Chair Lawrence Noble

George Lucas admires the new Indiana Jones bronze by AAU Sculpture Chair Lawrence Noble (Photo by Pete Vilmur)

Noble's Yoda sits behind Indy atop the park's large centerpiece fountain

Noble’s Yoda sits behind Indy atop the park’s large centerpiece fountain (Photo by Pete Vilmur)