|numbered sculptures match those in the aerial photo in the lower right|
|1 - atfalati (tualatin)|
working mainly with wood, hugh townley's whimsical forms drew influence from nature and native american culture.
(here is a cool picture isolating the first figure (or atfalati as i call it), taken by nativeagle on flickr. the twin pines on the right appear to serve as backup singers for the regal, sculpted concrete monolith, whose shadow seems to depict some kind of headless muscleman).
|2 - ahantchuyuk|
to me, they are somewhat reminiscent of something the spanish artist, joan miró (1892-1983), may of done, exhibiting the same sort of playfulness that was typical of his art. (harlequin's carnival, pictured below, has always been one of my favorite miró's).
|the harlequin's carnival - 1925 (with a townley twist)|
|3 - yamhill|
here is a wonderful bit of insight from hugh townley into how every so often, something we take in through one or more of our senses from our external surroundings, will excite a place inside of us enough to ignite our imagination, and perhaps even without us fully understanding what it is we are feeling deep within our very dna, it reaches that critical point where we are compelled to reify the thing back out into a tangible form, whether a painting, a sculpture, a song or a socioeconomic arrangement, to become the evolved and shared expression of that experience:
"the following poem is by kalidasa sukunta (translated from the sanscrit by w.s. merwin) says something more about me and the mode in which i live and work:
4 - chepenefaeven the man who is happy
or a hair of sound touches him
and his heart overflows with a longing
he does not recognize
then it must be that he is remembering
in a place out of reach
shapes he has loved
in a life before this
the print of them still there in him waiting
|5 - chelamela|
i work in as direct a fashion as i can. i rush into some ideas. sometimes i rush out again. as each piece becomes more ordered my studio becomes more disordered. then, look i am done! committed to each new work as it is, and above all to another, and more besides. surely there is no end.
- hugh townley
bethel, vermont june 2006"
i love each and every one of these stately and resolute figures. their shape, their positioning, their shadows, their texture, the way they look in different lighting conditions, their imposing might, but also their vulnerable fragility.
there are smaller ones and taller ones, wider ones and narrower ones. some of them appear to have pieces playfully removed from their bodies with a cookie cutter, while others resemble a single slab and are solid like some majestic monolith.
some appear to be dancing with the wind on their flared legs. others stand forcefully erect and almost seem to challenge the observer in a powerful show of mute defiance.
|7 - chafan|
|8 - santiam|
they seem to celebrate life while appearing at the same time to be representative of lives that are no more. each of them has its own unique personality, yet they are inextricably interconnected with one another through the relationship of their spatial arrangement and in their enduring strength against outside forces beating down upon them.
here is an original song that i put together as a tribute to hugh townley and this grand and beautiful sculpture
i wanted to chose names from the kalapuyan indigenous people in keeping with the "talking stones" theme at alton baker park, (click here for a pdf brochure for more information about the stones) where a series of eleven rocks have been placed at points around the park featuring words of the traditional kalapuyan language.
as you can see from the map below, the group names chosen for the figures more or less match the arrangement of the sculpture.
the area highlighted in blue and indicated by the black rectangle, was the region occupied by the kalapuya (shown in more detail on the larger map on the right). note the sculpture arrangement in the aerial photo in the upper left and compare that with the groups i have named them after.