In 1978, artist George Segal was commissioned to create a monumental sculpture for Youngstown.
The artist chose to document the men of the steel industry whose lives contributed to the growth of the Mahoning Valley. He chose two workers from Republic Steel to serve as models -- Wayman Paramore and Peter Colby Jr. (Both men still reside in Youngstown.)
That commission, which resulted in a bronze sculpture that will soon be reinstalled at Youngstown's Ohio Historical Society Museum of Industry and Labor, was preceded by a preliminary work titled "Steelmakers," a sculpture that is itself a masterpiece.
This preliminary, original plaster work is on view in the Butler Institute's Dennison Gallery, on loan courtesy of the Segal Foundation.
According to Butler Director Dr. Louis Zona, "Those of us involved in the project which brought Mr. Segal to Youngstown will never forget his extraordinary sensitivity toward this city and his affection for its people. He was an artistic genius whose life's work has immeasurably enriched Youngstown."
About Segal: Artist George Segal (1924-2000) was one of America's most respected and popular artists. Renowned for his life-size plaster sculptures of ordinary people doing ordinary things, Segal first began his inventive process by covering friends and relatives with plaster-soaked surgical bandages.
Reassembling the figures, he would then place these "casts" in realistic environments -- a subway car, an automobile, at a kitchen table or in a theater seat. This contrast of a commonplace setting with the lifelike, somewhat ghostly, figures made Segal's creations moving, disturbing and often comical.
According to Segal, "Daily life has a reputation for being banal, uninteresting, boring somehow. It strikes me that daily life is baffling, mysterious and unfathomable."
Segal created his art out of some of life's most mundane moments -- waiting for a bus, lunching in a diner, watching television. Yet the artist created more than just a frozen moment in time. Segal reminds us through his work of our own humanity -- our frailties as well as our triumphs.
After he became established as an artist, Segal was frequently asked to make sculptures that would commemorate moments in history, such as the Kent State shootings, the Holocaust, or the Great Depression. Sometimes, as in "Steelmakers," he would literally depict or document an event. Yet in other works Segal chose metaphor as a means of communication.
The work of this New Jersey-based artist can be seen in major museums and in public spaces nationwide, from the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C., to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York.
Exhibition of drawings: Also on view in the Butler's Mesaros Galleries is an exhibition of drawings by master painter Willem de Kooning.
"The Artist's Hand" explores the drawings of a famous master of Abstract Expressionism who often drew on his canvas before starting to paint, and drew constantly on paper, with little regard for the differences between a preparatory sketch, a quick notation and an individual work.
This exhibition features works on paper from the artist's formative years, and shows de Kooning's evolution from traditional drawing to his mature style.
The exhibition is presented courtesy of Mitchell, Innes & amp; Nash in conjunction with Matthew Marks Gallery of New York City.
On May 10 at 2 p.m., Butler Director Dr. Louis Zona will present a director's gallery talk and tour of this exhibition. On May 14 at 12 p.m., there will be a screening of a de Kooning documentary in the museum's Beecher Center auditorium. Both programs are free and open to the public.
Last chance: Today is the last opportunity to view the Bray ceramic collection, on exhibit at the Butler in Youngstown.
The popular show features works in a variety of techniques, from hand-building to wheel-thrown pieces along with ceramic sculpture and wall reliefs.
Today is also the closing day for the Center Street Studio (Boston) printmaking exhibition at the Butler's Trumbull branch.
And today is also the final opportunity to view the work of Drs. Robert L. Tornello and Edwin Shuttleworth at the Butler's Salem branch.
The Butler Salem branch will hold a reception from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. today to honor Edwin Shuttleworth. The free public event is presented in cooperation with the Charles Burchfield Homestead organization.
And those who have not yet had an opportunity to view the Don Gummer sculpture exhibition have one more week to do so with that show closing April 21.
What's coming up: A free public talk on Gummer's work by Youngstown State University professor of art Greg Moring is set for Thursday at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Butler Salem branch a free gallery talk on the lost wax process of creating sculpture will be demonstrated from 1 to 3 p.m. On April 27, a dynamic exhibition of contemporary quilts will open in Salem.
Sunday, April 21, the Butler in Youngstown will hold a family day with a film in the Butler's Zona Auditorium followed by an art activity with Butler art instructor Kathy Young. For details, call (330) 743-1711, Ext. 117.
Art lovers will want to mark their calendars for May 5 when three new exhibitions will open at the Butler in Youngstown. Paintings by Pittsburgh artist Joann Milsom, sculptural glass by seven Midwestern artists, and a new digital light installation of the work of Milton Komisar will all open with a public reception to honor all artists with works on view. Call (330) 743-1711 for information.
XButler hours in Youngstown are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Butler hours at the Trumbull branch are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Butler Salem hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to all three facilities is free.