Sculptures unveiled at Milton Rhodes Center

by Brittany Mollis

The frigid temperatures did not stop residents of Winston-Salem from joining together for the installation of two new art pieces in front of the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts. On Wednesday, March 19, “The City of the Arts” welcomed two pieces by major 20 th century sculptors as a gift to the City and to the Arts Council.

The Chuck Ginnever sculpture was given to the City of Winston Salem by the late Betsy Babcock, and the Beverly Pepper sculpture was given to the Arts Council by the late Phillip Hanes and his wife, Charlotte.

Chuck Ginnever was an abstract modernist who created pieces that invite onlookers to explore his art from different angles so that different perspectives can be seen.

Ginnever once described his sculptures by saying, “The sculpture is not made to trick anybody. The way they are placed, they challenge our perception. Perspective has nothing to do with how forms of sculpture actually appear, yet we expect things to behave in a certain way, which my sculptures intentionally refuse to do.”

His pieces were shown in major museums and private collections throughout the US and the world. The piece given to the City of Winston-Salem was created in the 1970s and was displayed in Winston Square Park for a period of time.

This sculpture, titled “Dovecoats,” is composed of irregular rectangles, and the viewers are encouraged to view the sculpture from different angles because each angle offers something unique.

Beverly Pepper, 92, is a world-renowned sculptor who now splits her time between New York City and Italy. Pepper is now famous for her pieces created out of metal, but she began her art career sculpting pieces out of wood. Once she learned how to work with metal, her career took off. To learn the ins and outs of working with metal, in 1980, Pepper spent six months at the John Deere factory in Moline, Illinois. Working in cast iron with American metalworkers there, she produced sculptures inspired by screwdrivers and files. Pepper then created the concept of “Earthbound Sculptures,” which are metal sculptures that seem to “be born in and raised up from the earth.”

Her pieces can be found in Central Park, Park Avenue, Paris and Florence, and all pieces are site-specific. Her sculpture in Winston-Salem was made nearly three-decades ago, and it is titled “Pythias Presence.”

Steve Berlin, Chair of the Arts Council Board and Jim Sparrow, President and CEO of the Arts Council, were in attendance to accept the Beverly Pepper sculpture, and Mayor Allen Joines accepted the Ginnever sculpture.

“On behalf of the city, I would just like to say how thankful we are for these wonderful gifts,” Mayor Joines said, “We are the City of the Arts, and our City is moving forward with innovation.”

Jeff MacIntosh, City Council Member of the Northwest Ward, echoed Mayor Joines appreciation.

“I want to thank everyone that was involved in this project,” MacIntosh said, “This City has such a great culture of tradition.”

Councilman MacIntosh also told the crowd how pleased he is to have these sculptures in his “neighborhood,” and how nice it is to hear that so many people are choosing to make Winston- Salem their home.

“I am also in the real estate business,” MacIntosh said, “It is so refreshing to see all the people who choose this City as the place they want to set up their businesses and raise their children.”

Charlotte Hanes, wife of the late Philip Hanes, was in attendance to speak on behalf of the donors.

“There is a meaning behind the Beverly Pepper sculpture,” Hanes explained, “It’s about coming together. It is loyalty. It is unselfish collaboration.”

Hanes points out that the Beverly Pepper sculpture has a hole in it, and she says that symbolic for the fact that people

MILTON: “The sculpture is not made to trick anybody”

have their differences, but somehow, a community is always capable of coming back together.

“Philip and I knew Beverly Pepper, and we even spent some time with her in Italy,” Hanes said, “Philip and I were actually the first people to spend time in her honeymoon cottage. We won’t talk about that though.”

Hanes entertained the crowd of supporters with humorous anecdotes about her husband and their love for the City and for the arts.

“Philip really believed in the importance of public art,” Hanes said, “he believed in it because he said we were going to be buried in it. He’s already there now, just waiting for me.”

Hanes told the crowd that it was Philip’s idea that public art should be put everywhere in the City and have people buried in it.

“Haven’t you ever heard of Grant’s Tomb?” Hanes jokingly asked the crowd, “We can have art everywhere if people would come together and agree to be buried in it.”

Hanes teased the crowd about an idea that she and her husband once shared.

“Just think,” Hanes said, “When the rapture comes, the public art will be wanted, and you will be in it, so you get to go too!” Hanes tickled the crowd once more before exiting by cheering, “If you believe in public art, say ‘Amen!’” The last speaker of the ceremony was Belinda Tate, the Art Director at the Diggs Gallery at Winston-Salem State University. The Diggs Gallery is the major cultural center at WSSU, and it offers one of the largest exhibitions dedicated to the arts of Africa and the African Diaspora in North Carolina.

“We all have a piece of art or an object at home that we love, something that we cherish,” Tate said, “Much like we develop attachments for things at home, we also develop attachments for things in public spaces.”

“Pieces like this help the people of Winston-Salem create a shared identity.” !