Installed at Bellevue Place and just outside our gallery doors - the tallest standing cast bronze sculpture in the US.
Commissioned by Kemper Freeman Jr. in 2005
How did you come in contact with Kemper Freeman, Jr. and learn of this project that became Endless Celebration?
This project was presented to me by three different venues. One of my galleries in California, my foundry in Paso Robles, California and Sclater Partners Architects, of Seattle.
How long did it take to complete the process of planning and creating Endless Celebration?
I am fortunate to have worked with my foundry for over a decade. Les Brown, my friend and owner of Metal Arts Foundry had to create and find new techniques to satisfy my sculptural goal for Endless Celebration. We started the process in January 2005 and installed in November 2005. This would not have been possible, except for my team at Metal Arts Foundry headed by Les Brown and Allen Baxter. When you work this hard for so long on such a complicated sculpture you need one man to troubleshoot, our man was Carl Silkensen who daily came to our rescue. We all worked day and night for ten months on Endless Celebration. It was an exhilarating roller coaster ride!
When and why did you start working in cast bronze?
I have been showing in galleries since the late seventies. My bodies of work have evolved from drawings in pen and ink, to painting to fabricated steel sculptures. In 1990 I began casting in bronze. My subject matter has always been a process of exploration, reflecting my experiences and relationships.
How did you come up with the concept for the sculpture? Is this the largest piece you’ve done?
The size was suggested by the architects and approved by Kemper Freeman, Jr. I am constantly expanding my vocabulary in art. The concept of this sculpture was intended to represent Bellevue. I wanted to create a subject of dialogue dedicated to bringing the community into the art. Without human interaction sculpture would be void, it would be empty of emotion. This piece of art was intended to reflect a strong community where people who live here can work hard and enjoy the good life. Endless Celebration is the largest cast bronze I have done, so it was important to me that the sculpture be as easily read from a distance as it could from close up, I believe that my style which does not cater to detail allows me to translate from small to monumental without loosing energy or emotion.
What does the sculpture represent? Were there any particular feelings or
ideas you were trying to evoke? Why the name, “Endless Celebration?”
Michael Klein said, “Sculpture, like architecture, can define and contribute to the energy and dynamics of a metropolitan community.” My vision for Endless Celebration was initially a sculpture that would enhance the visual environment and enrich the community. I like to play with balance, to investigate gravity and then to try and defy it with my sculptures. Endless Celebration is a fifty-one foot cast bronze weighing nearly three tons. So it is quite an adventurous approach to the use of balance, as one figure daringly holds the other up into the sky with trust and declares it’s space quite boldly. The name Endless Celebration came from poetry and represents celebratory emotions such as a spirit of romanticism and joy. It implies balance between hard work and good lives. I hope that Endless Celebration can help make a positive and distinctive impression on the spirit of Bellevue Washington.
Is the process different creating a public work of art than if you were creating a piece for a private home or gallery?
Well actually this was a privately funded work of art for public viewing and enjoyment. The difference between this sculpture and other sculptures was the size. Certainly I had to envision this piece before it was completed, since we did not have the luxury of working on it upright. I also had to keep in mind how this sculpture would be viewed from many different angles and distances. The maquette had already been approved by Kemper Freeman, Jr. so it was up to me to make sure the large size held true to the initial design and maquette.
What did you learn from doing this project?
It has been an enriching experience to learn about the life of Kemper Freeman Jr. I have learned how one man with vision can make such an important commitment to his community. His contribution of this sculpture for public enjoyment is inspirational. If we all cared about our communities to this degree our world would reflect back in such a positive way. Kemper Freeman Jr. has made me realize that ideas fueled by passion are what drive great works to completion.
How much did the sculpture cost to make and install? Or, what was the budget for the project?
This was a privately funded art project by Kemper Freeman Jr. for public enjoyment.
Is there anything else you would like to add or that you think people should know about Endless Celebration?
Monumental Sculpture should represent emotions beyond words. It should engage the viewer in a private conversation. Each individual finding their own interpretation of what this sculpture means to them. Introducing sculpture to retail architecture reflects the humanity behind commerce and should help preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of a community. I sincerely hope that the people of Bellevue enjoy Endless Celebration for decades to come. It represents the hard work and the good life we all strive to balance.
Excerpt from Duncan Simcoe’s essay on Endless Celebration
…”In fact, it is flesh on flesh, and it is this dynamic of relationship in Endless Celebration that separates Cocteau’s vision from that of Bergson. For him, the elan vital is an impersonal force, while for Cocteau, the sensation of living is realized through contact, touch. It is about the reconciliation of polarities, the archetypal community of male and female and of the ecstatic union of the two. It is an eternal celebration of relationship, the need for it and the exuberance of it. The common experience of relationship is the space travel of the ‘everyman’, and the metaphor for it is weightlessness; curvilinear and fluid. It is life in motion; the dance of Shiva, the motion of wind in grass.
In its expression of THE essential community, Endless Celebration returns us to its role as public sculpture. What is it the collective expression of? What are the aspirations being articulated? Being situation in a commercial/retail district might have required nothing more than an enjoinder to ‘have a good time’, the mantra of MASS culture. However, it is people who will fill his square with life and it is the idea of harmonious community that is clearly imagined by Cocteau. Although history makes cynics of us all in this regard: failed communes, revolutions gone sour, perhaps the measure of it is simply our ability to imagine it. Whether or not Bellevue, or any city, will realize that enduring dream may not be the point. Just as the figures in Endless Celebration defy gravity, the myth of utopia defies the gravity of human nature.”
Duncan Simcoe, M.F.A.
Associate Professor of Visual Arts 2006