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!

FASCU Students To Take Part In Sand Sculpting Event

FASCU students Jihoon Choi and Seok don Choi

FASCU students Jihoon Choi and Seok don Choi

FASCU students Jihoon Choi and Seok don Choi will be showing off their sculpting skills at San Francisco’s first ever international sand sculpture competition — Carve San Francisco – running October 16-20 near the Sports Basement at Crissy Field!

The event, which is hosted by Hub Strategy and follows their successful Carve Tahoe snow sculpting event last February, will also feature the return of AAU Sculpture Chair Lawrence Noble as one of the judges of the sand sculpting event.

“The Academy of Art University School of Sculpture is proud to provide two of our best students to Carve San Francisco,” says Noble. “It affords a great opportunity for both students to not only represent our home state of California but also their home country of South Korea. We are confident their talents will shine.”

Carve showcases the extreme art of sand sculpting, inviting teams from around the world to sculpt 400 tons of sand into astounding and intricate works of art over five days. It features sculpting, surf artistry and board shaping, music and gourmet food trucks provided by Off The Grid.

The event brings awareness to and raises funds for two non-profits, the San Francisco Chapter of Surfrider Foundation and Sustainable Surf. Funds are raised by encouraging visitors to vote with $1 for their favorite sculptures.

Carve will be held from October 16th-20th near the Sports Basement in the Presidio (Crissy Field) and will include daily activities including “Sandcastles & Schools” in which Bay Area students K-12 are invited to meet the artists, learn about ocean preservation and restoration, and play in 25 tons of sand.

Check out Carve San Francisco’s Facebook page for more info and updates!

FASCU Chair Noble by Jihoon Choi

Student Jihoon Choi has been keeping the staff and faculty here at the Cannery gleefully entertained with his summer series of faculty portrait sculptures (previous entries included Associate Director Margaret Keelan and instructor DJ Burt). We snapped a couple dozen images of his latest portrait of FASCU Chair Lawrence Noble and plugged them into a gif for some added value. With several weeks left in the summer session, we’re sure to see more faculty members in clay emerge from the studio of Jihoon Choi…


Portrait Sculpture Time-Lapse

Last semester, we set up a camera for three consecutive sessions in Lawrence Noble’s Portrait Sculpture (FASCU 345) class to see how a piece comes together in the span of just a few minutes. Check out student Shadoe Delgado (with cameos by Gianna Dispenza, Richard Thoms, and others) as he sculpts model Alexei Setian at FASCU’s Cannery studio. The four-minute video represents over 20 hours of sculpting!

Many thanks to Brad Robertson at Cyber Campus for editing the piece and composing the music!!

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)

Alameda Police Memorial Bronzes by FASCU Chair Lawrence Noble

"The Grieving Angels" monument

“The Grieving Angels” monument

Yesterday, three bronze sculptures by FASCU Chair Lawrence Noble were unveiled in front of Alameda Police Department memorializing two fallen officers from the department, Robert J. Davey and Deward B. Gresham. The event, which drew a large crowd of Alameda officers, press, and friends and family of the honored officers, included an introduction by Alameda Mayer Marie Gilmore and the ceremonial unveiling of the of three bronzes. In addition to two life-sizes busts, a “Grieving Angels” monument was also installed at the site, memorializing all who have served in the Alameda Police Department.

Check out some photos captured at the event below, and also head over to MercuryNews.com for several more.

Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore, and Lawrence Noble at the Alameda Police Memorial

AAU Vice President Melissa Marshall, Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore, and FASCU Chair Lawrence Noble at the Alameda Police Memorial

A friend of fallen Officer Deward Gresham admires the bronze cast in his image

A friend of fallen Officer Deward Gresham admires the bronze cast in his image

Lawrence Noble talks with Sue Davey, the wife of fallen Officer Robert Davey, Jr.

Lawrence Noble talks with Sue Davey, the wife of fallen Officer Robert Davey, Jr.

The memorial attracted a lot of press coverage

The memorial attracted a lot of press coverage

Academy of Art University Associate Director of Sculpture Margaret Keelan

Margaret Keelan, an accomplished sculptor and teacher of sculpture since 1976, is currently Associate Director at Academy of Art University’s School of Fine Art Sculpture, a role she has excelled in since 1997. Three years earlier, she had been recommended to the Academy by her friend and mentor, Marilyn Levine, who felt Keelan would be a perfect fit due to her interest in figurative sculpture.

Renowned for her series of ceramic child-like figures that appear disintegrated by decades of weathering and peeling paint, Keelan has developed these pieces over the last nine years, all while helming the Academy’s ceramics and glaze technology curriculums.

We asked Keelan about her artwork and what she’d most like students to take away from the Academy’s Fine Art Sculpture program:

What inspired you to become an artist – and has it always been sculpture?

"Dancer with White Rabbit"

“Dancer with White Rabbit”

MK: I decided at some point that being an artist was what I was best at. It consists of making objects, a process I find completely absorbing and satisfying, as well as a whole process of creative problem solving and mapping out personal evolution which is challenging and self- affirming. It completely suites my introverted, imagination-driven temperament.

Can you share some of the philosophy behind your artwork?

MK: My work is about authenticity, particularly as it emerges when we get older. I remember repainting someone’s kitchen once, and had to first scrape off the old paint. As it came off in layers. I realized that each layer, each color, represented a time period in the life of the person using the kitchen. So in my work there is the weathering of one layer to reveal the layer underneath, down to the essence of the person. The figures are usually young girls, referencing my own life and our own beginning youthful innocence. The faces are from molds of old 19th and early 20-century dolls to remove them from a specific time and place.

How long does it take you to create one of your pieces?

"Little Dancer with Cat" (detail)

“Little Dancer with Cat” (detail)

MK: These latest pieces are meticulously crafted and can take several days to sculpt. Then they must dry and be fired multiple times. I also work in stages and may need to let the work dry and “stiffen” a little as I build. As I apply my surfaces, each layer must be fired in the kiln. A large piece may take a month.

Surfacing is a very important aspect of your work — can you describe your approach?

MK: I embrace the process of using mat surfaces and painterly techniques such as dry brushing, dark base coats, washes, and multiple firings. Shiny glazes are used sparingly to draw the eye to specific areas.

Discuss your favorite piece that you’ve done. What were you thinking when you created it?

MK: I often most like the very last piece that I have done, or one that incorporates a new idea and technique, or has been particularly challenging. My most recent favorite is Pas de Dog. I wanted to build a piece that included my own dog, and worked with the theme of the show. There were a number of technical and compositional challenges that were fun to wrestle with. I am pleased with the tension between the child and the dog, how a narrative is suggested.

"Pas de Dog"

“Pas de Dog”

What kind of people would you say collect your artwork?

MK: People, who love old dolls, Santos figures, the outdoors, animals, birds, and natural, organic materials, find my work appealing.

As a teacher, what’s the most important thing you can impart to a student?

MK: Well, when students are first starting out, I would advise to expect the unexpected, with the addendum: do not be discouraged if it doesn’t come out the way you want the first time!

You have an exhibit coming up – can you describe what pieces you’ll be featuring and the overall theme of the collection?

MK: My exhibit is called “Interface”. It shows how dance, animals, and toys are some of the ways we can connect with the world of fantasy and magic that we knew as children. All the sculptures were made with this theme in mind.

Margaret Keelan’s “Interface” exhibit will premiere at Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum, Idaho on July 1 and run through July 30th. Also be sure to check out her official site at MargaretKeelan.com!

Lisa Reinertson’s “Neptune’s Daughter”

"Neptune's Daughter"

“Neptune’s Daughter”

“Edge of Extinction”, an exhibit nearing its final week (June 14) at the Pence Gallery in Davis, California, features the sculpture of Lisa Reinertson, who recently visited AAU’s School of Fine Art Sculpture as a guest speaker last November. The centerpiece of “Edge” – an exquisite life-size sculpture of a young girl holding an oil-soaked pelican – made a profound impression on those entering the exhibit, and inspired us to ask the artist some questions about the piece:

Of all the pieces in your exhibit, the girl with pelican seems to embody the title – “Edge of Extinction” – most effectively. How do you feel she relates to your previous work, and how is she different?

LR: I have worked with imagery in my sculptures addressing the relationship of humans and animals over many years, but have not often referenced a specific event. In creating the sculpture “Neptune’s Daughter”, it felt necessary to me to address the specific events of oil spills and the impact on wildlife. Although, in giving the artwork the title “Neptune’s Daughter” I was opening up the concept to the timeless issues of our relationship with Nature and responsibility for stewardship.

Bronze "Neptune's Daughter"

“Neptune’s Daughter” in bronze

“Neptune’s Daughter” elegantly illustrates the plight of sea birds in a world of ever-increasing human activity. Can you elaborate on why you chose the specific model and pose you did for this piece?

LR: I wanted a young/adult/woman — a “Daughter” — who holds the mess our generation has created in her hands. She looks back over her shoulder confronting those responsible… asking what have we done — what do we plan to do? She embodies “one who is young and closer to nature; the daughter of the sea… whose world we are despoiling.

The glazing takes on special meaning here – was that part of your original inspiration for this piece?

LR: Yes. A photo of an oil drenched pelican with this brown dripping surface inspired the piece and the glaze.

Reinertson also sculpted this image in bas relief on sewer pipe

Reinertson also sculpted this image in bas relief on sewer pipe

Were there any specific challenges to sculpting or firing this sculpture?

LR: The sculpture is separated in three sections that will fit in my gas kiln. I needed to engineer the artwork in a way that it can be stabilized. The legs have threaded rods glued into the interior that extend up through the base of the skirt which it is then bolted onto. The top of the figure fits on the top of the skirt with an internal flange, similar to how a teapot lid fits onto the pot (but this is a usual process for me to use when building my standing ceramic figures.)

What part of the process in creating the girl with pelican do you want to revisit in a forthcoming piece?

LR: I actually used this imagery of “girl with oil spill drenched pelican” on two other artworks. One is a wall piece that has only the top of the figure with bird in arms. The other use of this imagery is on a large (7ft. tall) sewer pipe that I sculpted in bas relief. This was created at Mission Clay Pipes. Oh — AND I have cast the original in bronze and have given the bronze an overall blue patina with the brown on the pelican…

"Neptune's Daughter" at the Pence Gallery

“Neptune’s Daughter” at the Pence Gallery

Be sure to check out “Edge of Extinction” at the Pence Gallery in Davis before it ends on June 14, and also visit the artist’s official site!