Reflections project overlays time and place

Reflections project overlays time and place


Fans of internationally acclaimed sculpture artist David Engdahl are in for a surprise when they visit The Cummer Museum of Art & Garden’s Reflections: Artful Perspectives on the St. Johns River exhibit.

YearOfRiver_Engdahl_03Engdahl, who has worked with wood laminates for nearly 45 years, was assigned to interpret Herman Herzog’s Figure in a River Landscape, a 1910 oil painting.

His first thought about how to interpret the assigned painting was how he might apply his familiar laminated wood technique, and that’s what his fans may have expected to see.

“Herzog’s painting has a rather dark foreground, with a brilliant sky background shining through, and I considered how I might reflect this contrast in a sculpture,” said Engdahl. “However, the more I thought about interpretation of the painting, the more I thought that it is about more than technique.”

Engdahl instead drew on his architectural background of 44 years, including 28 as senior vice president and chief architect for Haskell Company, for this project.

A San Marco resident since 1973, Engdahl is one of 10 diverse, recognized regional artists working in different media to be invited by the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens to participate in its Reflections exhibit, on display through Oct. 18.

“Herman Herzog presented in his work a pristine and idyllic view of the natural Florida river landscape existent in the early 1900s including one figure responding to that landscape and time,” he said. “I decided to create a drawing which overlays that time and place with how we have, in many areas over a century, transformed our perspective of the river environment and our individual and collective response to it.”

YearOfRiver_Engdahl_01He titled his piece Figure in a River Landscape – 2015 to reinforce his message about the transformation of community perspective of the river. He worked on this drawing over a period of months, collecting real images from around Jacksonville, and experimenting with materials and technique.

A graduate of Penn State University, Engdahl moved to Jacksonville to work for nationally-known architect William Morgan. His first commissioned piece was a cross for a church in Mandarin. The commission was at the invitation of well-known Jacksonville architect Robert Broward, who always tried to incorporate artwork in his projects, said Engdahl.

“I like to say that I have had two parallel careers, architecture and sculpture. Architecture always took precedent since it provided a living, but that also gave me the freedom in my sculpture to use only my own criteria, not having the limit of the criteria of others except for an occasional commission,” he said. “I don’t perceive much design crossover between my architecture and my sculpture. However, my sculpture technique is very much an architectural process (2D drawing to 3D object).”

Engdahl has been commissioned to create many awards in his career, among them The Cultural Council’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts (1999); The Haskell Company Quality Project of the Year Award and the Engdahl Award for Design Excellence (both commissioned by The Haskell Company in 2007); and the Pillars of the Arts Award (2012) commissioned by The Museum of Contemporary Art-Jacksonville.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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