A sculpture is built – in commemoration of 25 years!

by Erica Davis

On Tuesday, July 31, 2012, First Stage will dedicate a sculpture by Milwaukee artist Richard Taylor in commemoration of 25 years of transforming lives through theater.  The piece will stand over 20 feet tall at the heart of First Stage – the grounds of the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, serving as a beacon of hope and inspiration in this vibrant Bronzeville neighborhood.   

The soaring structure represents the longevity of First Stage’s impact on young people and the power of First Stage’s mission of transforming lives through theater.    Its elegantly curved aluminum pieces are painstakingly welded one at a time, informing an overall shape that brings to mind a torch of flames.  A bench at the base of the sculpture, inscribed with inspirational words from First Stage alumni will provide public seating.

We made a visit to Richard’s studio on a day of record-breaking heat to see the progress of the piece.  Between sips of cool water and notes of cool jazz, he explained the logistics involved in his sculpting process and just how a concept eventually becomes three-dimensional work of art. 
Richard Taylor's studio

The sculpture in progress

Artist Richard Taylor with a model of the sculpture

Richard Taylor and Rob Goodman in the studio
Betsy Corry leaves her signature behind -
a must when visiting the studio
The sculpture for First Stage refers to many of the experiences the theater brings to its participants. The sculpture soars with confidence, is diversified in its many shapes yet finds strength in their unity. It proudly assumes a posture of leadership while it upholds values. It is respectful of its surroundings while it passes on these life experiences to all who have found them through work with the theater. Many alumni of First Stage have given testimonials to the strengthening of their lives through work on stage, and I have sought to compose a sculpture embodying the spirit of achievement and pride inherent in these tributes.

                                                                                                                         – Richard Taylor

This project was made possible by the First Stage 25th Anniversary Sculpture Committee and the generosity of several private donors.  The committee members are:  Liza Perry (Chair), Katherine “Murph” Burke, Kate Wilson, Diane Pellegrin, Josh Gimbel, Kristin Sheehan and Kathleen Seiberlich. 

The sculpture dedication ceremony is on Tuesday, July 31 at 12:30 p.m. in front of the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center located at 325 W. Walnut Street.  Tours of MYAC and light refreshments to follow.  Contact Nancy Clarkin at nclarkin@firststage.org with questions or to RSVP.

About Richard Taylor
Milwaukee artist Richard Taylor is nationally-renowned for his work; indoor and outdoor standing sculptures, wall sculptures, suspended sculptures, and paintings. His work has been commissioned in numerous cities across the country including Chicago and Mount Vernon, IL; Atlanta, GA; Beaverton, OR; Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee, WI.  Taylor’s notable outdoor standing sculptures in Milwaukee including Red Flower Rising at the Milwaukee Public Market,  A Beam of Sun to Shake the Sky at the Milwaukee Public Library’s Central Building and You Rise Above the World at the Milwaukee RiverWalk. More about Richard Taylor at www.taylorsculpt.com

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