I’m 6 ft 1in tall and wear size 12 shoes.
Robert Pershing Wadlow was 8ft 11in and wore size 37 shoes.
Out of all the people on the planet, the honor of being the World’s Tallest Man in recorded history belonged to a gentleman from Alton, IL, a town just 30 minutes from my own hometown. I thought it only fitting for me to grab my camera and make the short drive to the monument dedicated to him.
The life-size statue of Wadlow stands on College Avenue in Alton, opposite the Alton Museum of History and Art. The statue was erected in 1986 in honor of the hometown native. I first visited the statue with my grandparents back in 1995 (check out the shorts I’m rocking in a picture in the gallery below) but hadn’t been back until this past week. His statue looked just as enormous as it had when I was 12. Unfortunately I was the only one at the statue when I took pictures…so my shoe was the only point of reference I had to show just how, pardon the pun, largest than life he was.
Known as the Alton Giant, Robert Wadlow was born in 1918. His size was noticeable from an early age with special desks having to be made for him as an elementary school student. By his freshman year of college he was already over 8ft 3in and showing no signs of stopping. His celebrity status in American culture comes as no surprise and in 1936 he toured the country with the Ringling Brother Circus.
Mobility was always a problem for Wadlow, often requiring braces to support his 440lb frame. Sadly his giant stature would be his undoing. On July 4, 1940 a blister on Robert’s foot became infected requiring doctors to perform an unsuccessful blood transfusion. He would pass away in his sleep 15 days later at the young age of 22.
It is said his funeral was attended by nearly 40,000 people. His casket was 10 feet and required 12 pallbearers to take Robert to final resting place, which was interred in a vault of solid concrete.
While Robert Wadlow will likely hold the world record indefinitely at 8ft 11in doctors said that his body showed no signs of slowed growth. Who knows how tall he could have become.
There are six other life size statues of Wadlow, one of which resides at the Guinness Museum in Niagara Falls.
The works of notable abstract artist and poet, and long time Indianapolis resident, Lois Main Templeton were unveiled recently at the Conrad Indianapolis. I was honored to be given the opportunity to attend the event and visit Lois in her Indianapolis studio.
Organized and presented by the Modern Masters Fine Art, this collection of work is the first solo exhibition for the storied 84 year old artist at the Conrad. She has had solo exhibits in seven other states and her work has been exhibited in four museums, and twice showcased by the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Guests of the artist reception enjoyed live music, complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres, as well as a book signing by the artist herself. In addition to book signings, Templeton was on hand throughout the entire event to take pictures and strike up conversations with those patrons who came to see her works. Templeton creates vibrant combinations of contemporary art and poetry. Her specialty is abstract paintings done in oil on paper, but she also makes use of acrylics, charcoal and other mediums as well.
Following the exhibition I was offered the chance to stop by Ms. Templeton’s studio, where I had the opportunity to see the artist in her element. I was humbled that an established artist such as Ms. Templeton would allow me into her studio space, speak with her about her works, and even let me watch as she prepared another piece of work.
Lois shares the space with another established Indiana artist, Phil O’Malley. Together they gave me a tour of the studio and elaborated on projects they collaborated on, including work they did for the youth in the area. They even worked on a children’s book together, which Lois wrote and illustrated herself, titled “Who Makes the Sun Rise?”
Before visiting the studio I had sent Lois a handful of questions. My purpose was just to give her a few talking points, but what I got in return was far more than I expected. Lois provided me with pages of hand written answers, a treasure trove of thoughts and ideas from an amazing artist. It was as if she had invited me into her world and how she perceives it. After reading her responses I gained a greater appreciation and even a deeper understanding of her work. I have shared her responses to my questions below.
To say it was a privilege to spend the afternoon with Lois Main Templeton would be an understatement.
What does it mean to you to have your works on display at the Conrad?
The Conrad gives my work a voice, along with Constance Edwards Scopelitis and Walter Knabe. The really great artists of Pop Art constantly surprise, and make the Conrad an exciting place as well as a gorgeous hotel. The fact that three Midwestern Artists are included with the greats seems to me an extension of the hotels philosophy as well, of course, of Rhonda Long Sharp (Owner-Modern Masters of Fine Art).
My work is itself; Independent of me. While in the studio a painting and I have a grand tussle together (from the first marks to the point where it says, “Back off, Lady”). When it leaves the studio, it is on its own. If in a home, it becomes part of that person/family. In a corporate or public space, I hope it says “Hello there!” I would rather it be somewhat bumptious than just part of the scenery, just another furnishing.
Could you describe your friendship/relationship with Rhonda Long Sharp and how that influenced your career?
I think Rhonda and I took one look at each other and said, “What have we here!” She hears a piece and places it right where it can sing. We are direct with each other, can speak our minds freely. She is a very knowledgeable woman, so I am honored (and a little surprised) that she thinks so highly of my work. Both of us are family people, a fact very important in my case.
While very much a Middle westerner, I was more than ready to get out of Dodge. Indianapolis has been very welcoming and now it was high time the work take off in the hands of a person who has live contacts in and beyond the USA. Rhonda’s enthusiasm and the energy she puts into her life’s work, are mind boggling. Plus she’s more darn fun to be with.
What inspired you to include lines of your poetry in your artwork?
Most of us are more than just one person. We are often a colony of persons – is that how to put it? I scribble my thoughts as they come. Just as painters like paint, so I like language. Faced with a big white surface, I need to mark it up – words, gestures make it my world. The words don’t have to be mine, for goodness sake, at some point the itch to paint strikes. Most of those writings and marks will be covered by paint; some are discernable. Perhaps writing returns as calligraphic gesture in paint or with charcoal. We are, all of us, body AND mind. Often my work is a reflection of that common fact. We are, most of us quite complicated persons – a colony.
Any new projects?
You never can tell! For instance, lacking studio space for several months in 2011 meant that all I would so was water color…drove me nuts. An oil painter pushes, scrapes, and digs the paint. It is very physical. It is definitely “interactive” – Constantly! My watercolors include ink, graphite, spit, and gouache. Rhonda and I decided they should be classified as “mixed media art work”. Perhaps most importantly, they can be little things done on a dining room table. So, in answer to your question, it depends on the cards you’re dealt – to some extent.
My new project is that at 84 – I am digging up bits of sketches, snapshots, notes that are here in the Indianapolis studio. Pinned to a wall here I spotted a remark of Billy Names (he was a photographer of the 1960) “I don’t mind being an antique. As long as you do something authentic you stick around.” SO- I am powering through bits of what is to see what feels authentic and THEN see if I can run with it. Remember what I said about no fear? Hogwash. I, at any rate, have fear – until I begin, at which point the paint takes over.
Being authentic is all it takes – and what it takes. Hmmm?
It’s cloudy outside, why not blog about the clouds inside?
Photoshop…as many of you know…is my tool of choice. I therefore can be quite skeptical about the authenticity of a beautiful image, especially if said image looks completely “photoshopped”
My skepticism was in full swing when I saw photos from artist Berndnaut Smilde, depicting nimbus clouds floating in an indoor space. Surely this had to be the work of a Photoshop master.
How wrong I was.
By controlling temperature and humidity, the Dutch artist plays the role of a sort of gallery god…and the pictures are astounding. Check out the full article HERE to read more and to see a video of the installation.
“There is something new under the sun, every day, all over the world. Around every corner is something that will surprise the hell out of you. Atlas Obscura is for people who still believe in discovery.”
That little blurb is from one of my favorite sites Atlas Obscura, and today I’d thought I share three entries from their site. The subject matter today highlights types of art that are best viewed from the air…and not hung on a wall. These works can be found all over world, from rice fields in Japan to a memorial for a lost love in Argentina. Take a few moments to click on links below and read up on a subject matter I bet you never even knew existed.
Have you ever stared blankly at a canvas? Have your fingers ever hovered over the keyboard before writing a big paper? Does your brain ever feel like it’s nothing more than a collection of unimaginative thoughts strewn about…as so many crumpled balls of paper on a writer’s floor? If so then you know how debilitating a mental block can be.
Today I am suffering a huge mental block regarding a project I am trying to complete, a project that I think at its core is very original. Therefor I should have no problem completing it…but that is not the case.
I signed up for The Sketchbook Project about three months ago. To give you some background the Sketchbook Project is put on by the Art House Co-Op with the Brooklyn Art Library every year, involving artists from all across the globe. Each participant is given a blank sketchbook, a subject matter (serving as a creative jump-off point), and a deadline by which to turn it in . Once received, all submissions will be sent around the world as part of traveling exhibition before finally coming to rest in the Brooklyn Art Library’s permanent collection. Additionally all sketchbooks submitted will be digitized and made available online. Pretty cool right?
I’ve had my blank sketchbook in my possession for some time now. My subject matter simply said “Sandwich”, and for the life of me I’ve been trying to find a creative way to move forward…but I can’t seem to commit. I’ll start a train of thought that I believe is right but, just before I begin to sketch, I second guess my choice. So down the pencil goes, and the creative process turns over and over again in my head.
Is it a creative block, or creative indecisiveness? I know I will eventually get over this hurdle…but today I felt the need to share my plight with others 🙂
Regardless of how I’m coming along, you should check out the Sketchbook Project for yourself. It’s a great idea.
When one thinks of a Christmas gift it’s usually something tangible. Clothes, music, books, Nerf guns…well you get the idea. This year one gift came early in the form of an experience, Monet’s Water Lilies at the St. Louis Art Museum.
For the first time in over 30 years, before I was even born, all three parts of Monet’s Agapanthus triptych were reunited and on display. Each of the three canvases measure 14 feet long with some experts believing Monet spent nearly 10 years on the piece. I could go on and on about the specifics of the painting, or you can just click here.
I’ve always had a great appreciation for art and the artists behind them. My visit to this exhibit, however, was the first time I sat in awe of a piece of work. My father, younger brother, and myself spoke at great length, comparing what we were individually interpreting from the painting. We didn’t even bother for the iPod tour (for which I’m glad) Sometimes we agreed, other times not so much…. I don’t think I ever had a conversation such as this with my father.
We sat, stood, squinted, tilted our heads, viewed up close, viewed from afar, viewed from every angle we could imagine to gain a different perspective and perhaps a deeper understanding of what we simply could not pull ourselves away from. It saddens me to know this work will be divvied up again next month, sent back to their respective museums waiting to be reunited at a TBD date in the future.
I highly suggest you check out the exhibit before it closes January 22.