Kim & Karen 2 Soul Sisters

Kim & Karen 2 Soul Sisters

Monday, August 17, 2015

Maclay's Michael Todd's CIRCLES OF LIFE Sculpture

Welcome back to the Art Ed Blog. You just never know what we are going to post. This one in particular has been in the works for almost a year. You see, last fall I took an art ed job at Maclay School. There are 3 art teachers employed. Of the 3, 2 of us were new. I would pass by this really sad sculpture to and from the middle school art room and it just looked like Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree. So, I decided to do some investigating know kind of like Nancy Drew or Scooby Doo. 

It took me about a week and I emailed the old school head, the 2 retired art teachers and no one really could tell me the name of the artist. I had bits and pieces and I finally heard back from one of my sources and did a little "Goggle-ing" to come up with what had been given and a possible link to the artist. How crazy is it? I Googled. I emailed. I explained our situation and I sent a photo of the sculpture. And, Michael Todd the artist emailed me back!!! Wahooo...I was so excited that now I finally had the story of where this sculpture came from - you know art teachers, they like a good story!

Below is a chain of events that took place in the emails:


William W. Jablon

Mon 12/8/2014 2:13 PM

Hi Kim,
The sculpture was a gift to Jehan Fisk , and anthropologist and faculty member at Univ. of California , Davis.  She and her physicist husband came to Tallahassee so he could work at the magnetic lab.  They had a daughter, Samantha who played on Les Lundbergs champion volley ball teams.  The artist has a similar piece on display at the Hirshon in Washington, DC.  Jehan was a neighbor and had this in her front yard.  Unfortunately, she died of cancer and her husband gave the sculpture to me for Maclay.  I gave all the info on the artist to Cathy Hathaway who hopefully still has it.  If not, I will try to find the artist at the Hirshon.  Jehan had done extensive anthropology work in Tahiti.  Her daughter Sam has a book in our library that she wrote about her travels with her mother.  Hope this helps.  Bill Jablon book in our library that she wrote about her travels with her mother.  Hope this helps.  Bill
Michael Obrecht
Mon 12/8/2014 8:46 AM
To: Kim Daniel;
It was a gift from Bill Jablon’s next door neighbors, The Fisk family.  They had several lawn sculptures in their yard.  When they moved from the area Bill asked what they were doing with the sculptures  - we got one!  This one is by a West Coast artist named Michael ? I’d know it if I heard it.  The piece is called, The Circle of Man? Or the cycle or seasons of.  Anyway that’s as much as I know.
Kim Daniel
Thu 12/11/2014 1:16 PM
Kim Daniel… Does a little research online via Google and then proceeds to Email’s Michael Todd and sends photo of sculpture…below is his response!
Michael Todd
Thu 12/11/2014 1:03 PM
Hi Kim,

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.  THAT IS DEFINITIVELY MY BABY.  It is so good to see her again.  I have thought of her over the years and wondered how she was doing with Jehan. She certainly needs some restoration.  The paint is Rustoleum's Damp proof Red Primer.  I would recommend sanding off any rust down to clean metal and then reapplying a primer coat.  The final color is optional, though I do like that dull red.  I also like a bright yellow.

Formally, the piece plays with the cliché of the tripodal form that is often used by sculptors to get the main body of the sculpture off the ground.  For me the "legs of the sculpture" became the emphasis of the work, held together by the triangle.  So the body of the sculpture becomes three bodies, held in trialog by the "three graces" of the different leg forms.  One could also say that the piece flirts with the idea of the Judgement of Paris, three beauties judged by the god Paris.

This sculpture was never permanently anchored down, which permitted Jehan to drag it along on her various moves across country.  I realize that you may need to have it finally anchored down with bolts or welded to steel plates anchored in concrete peers.  Do whatever feels best, and least obtrusive. You might get some advice from local 
sculptors or conservators.  Do keep me abreast of the progress on the restoration.  I will look up Amanda on the site that you mentioned.

I am thrilled to see a more public home for my baby.

Best regards for the Holidays,
P.S. Kim it might be nice to have the sculpture standing in a circular bed of gravel, which would help it stand off from the grass. Also could you send your last email with the photo again. I seem to have lost it in this old computer. Thanks, Mike On Dec 11,

Kim Daniel
Thu 12/11/2014 1:16 PM
Yes, sir...CRAZY!!! We were thinking the same thing. It needs to have something around it or under it! Great ART minds think alike =) I will be glad to send it again. I am so excited about this! Of, course, I will keep you posted on our little project. Creatively, Kim Daniel

So there you have it…the history of

This is our newly renovated sculpture! We are so proud of it and it could not have been done without the support of our administration. All 3 art teachers were on a mission and we wanted to show some TLC to this fine piece of art. This year we are making it a priority for everyone on campus to be exposed to our very own Michael Todd.
Kyle Maurey is our US Art Teacher and she enlisted her Art Honors Society kids to help us get the job done.
These are renderings of possible color and pattern for our  renovation.
During pre-planning we had students that were willing to come and volunteer to help us put the final touches on our 1st sculpture in our planned "art walk".
Patterns were a nice touch!
It is all in the details!
We tried to keep school colors but add just a little spunk to it.
Cathy Hicks (Lower School Art) was instrumental in leading our renovation. She is a huge team player. So glad she is on our Fine Arts Team!
The gravel matches the newly renovated US courtyard.
Just a hint of red makes it eye catching and check out the shadows. Those shadows change throughout the day creating other works of art on the ground in silhouette form.
Before patterns
After Patterns
This sight just makes me SMILE!!!!
US Art Students hard at work on the details.
We tried to make sure this process was on social media so we could get the word out that The Circles Of  Life was being cared for this summer.
Thanks Maclay School's social media for helping us spread the word. You see it takes a whole school to change the mindset of things like this. Our Visual Arts Department has an unbelievable amount of support on and off campus.
Crazy... we have a group text between the 3 art teachers and we communicate all the time this is one of our photos sending an SOS to buy them at Home Depot 
Priming is complete
After Cathy and her Father-In-Law stripped and cleaned it
After our Maintenance Crew helped us set it up - much appreciated!!!
Getting ready to use industrial strength pressure washer
This was an all day affair.
Getting there!
Paint stripper...ew ew ew
Pretty powerful chemical reaction going on there!
Supplies to make Circles Of Life have a well deserved face-lift =)
Getting ready for a long day.
The more I look at this sculpture the more I really like it!
Cathy getting down and dirty...making it happen
Ideas from Mr. Milford...he is our school head and most supportive of the arts. He gave us 100% of his support in this endeavor.
Thank you Maintenance Crew...yall are the bomb diggity. We couldn't have done it without you.

 The actual move!
This was drawn by an AP Art student to help the renovation process begin.
If you compare this photo to the first one you can see just how much LOVE was needed.
Whoop Whoop...It looks so awesome now! 
 As school starts we have 3 informational boards up in all 3 divisions about Michael Todd. This one is from Cathy in LS. We plan not only to educate our Maclay family but our parents and perspective families too! Thank you Mr. Michael Todd for sharing your gifts and talents with us. We sure do appreciate it and so many lives will be touched by this. If you are ever down here in Florida, please look us up. We can show you some southern hospitality and super kid art from Maclay School!

Happy First Day of School
***Moral to this blog post - Don't have a fixed mindset. Have a growing mind and see just who all you can touch. Just from me asking 1 essential question last fall about this sculpture...look where we are today for it!!! Huge shout out to all involved in helping us this journey! xoxo

Michael Todd was born in Omaha in 1935 and grew up in Chicago. He graduated magna cum laude with a BFA from Notre Dame in 1959 and received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to continue his studies at UCLA, where he completed his master's degree in 1961 with a focus in printmaking. In Los Angeles, Todd started making sculpture, initiating his “fetish” series, which he would further develop during his two year stay in Paris on a Fulbright Fellowship. 

Returning to the US in 1963, Todd moved into a loft studio in New York City and began to work with wooden geometric constructions. His first solo exhibitions took place at the Hanover Gallery in London and Pace Gallery in New York. Todd’s work was included in the Whitney Museum’s Annuals of 1964, 1966, 1967 and 1970 and LACMA’s landmark exhibition American Sculpture of the Sixties. While teaching at Bennington College, he was invited to join the Arts Faculty at the University of California, San Diego in 1968. Thanks to the abundance of steel from the shipbuilding industry in San Diego, Todd shifted from wood to metal and began to develop his own mature artistic vocabulary.

Inspired by Zen concepts and calligraphy and the freedom of expression in California of the late 60’s, Todd used discarded shapes found in steel scrap yards to explore the cosmos and composition in space. The enso, a Zen circle motif, figures prominently in Todd’s work. For many years, Todd maintained his studio in New York City and continued to show there at Zabriskie Gallery, Betty Cuningham Gallery and Charles Cowles Gallery. In 1976, he moved with his wife and daughter to Los Angeles and began to show at Nicholas Wilder Gallery and Tortue Gallery. In the 1980’s, Todd shifted his focus to bronze, creating the components of his sculptures by pouring molten metal into a bed of sand.

The 90’s found Todd immersed in drawing and painting. In 2003, he began working in clay, and has created a series of ceramic wall pieces that evoke his first “fetish” series and also freestanding work that draws from his years of investigation of the circle, gravity and space.

Todd’s work can be found in many public collections, including the Whitney Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, Storm King Art Center, the Norton Simon Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In addition to Bennington and UCSD, Todd has held teaching positions at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Otis College of Art and Design and University of California, Irvine.

For more information please visit:

I emailed Michael Todd and he responded...

Hello Kim,

You have done a wonderful job,
Restoring my sculpture. I am soooooooooooooo pleased. If steel sculpture has feeling, it must deeply
great full to you. Jehan must be pleased also. I like the circular bed of gravel and the location near the art building very much also. Please give my thanks to all those who assisted you in your efforts.

Kudos and bravos to all of you art lovers.

Mike Todd

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