Monday, August 31, 2009
By Georgia Temple
Ed Haddaway’s painted steel sculptures greet visitors to the Museum of the Southwest even before they enter the Here and Now Gallery. One sculpture stands in the parking lot, another waits on the lawn. Both encourage the mood the artist painted in his talk at the recent members reception.
He had those attending laughing from his opening comments to his closing remarks. Most surely have not forgotten his description of the sculpture standing in the parking lot that he made 30 years ago and is “worse for the wear” especially “after he ran over it with the forklift,” or his comment that he “got even with his parents” by “learning to do nothing useful,” unlike his brother “who was a genius, or so I’ve been told,” or his description of himself when he was younger as a “motorcycle hoodlum” who once got a “truck stuck under a bridge” and when it was pulled out the “top half came off.”
A booklet of some 15 pages that Haddaway said “has everything I know in it” accompanies the exhibition. There were not enough booklets for everyone to take one, so he suggested the following: “If you really, really want one and you have been a good person all your life, you can take it home with you. If not, read it and bring it back, so someone else can read it.”
The booklet includes such comments from the artist as his opening statement under “Legal Brief on Unchartered Waters:” “One of my guiding principles as an artist has been this: If anyone does something long enough, eventually someone else will assume that that person knows what they are doing. I have certainly found this to be true in my own life. I have been making Ed Haddaway sculptures long enough now to be considered something of an authority on the subject, and rarely am I questioned anymore as to my competence.”
Haddaway has been creating sculptures since childhood.
“I have been making things for as long as I can remember,” Haddaway says on his Web site, www.edhaddaway.com. “The backyard of my childhood is littered with old lumber, hammers, nails and holes dug for the hell of it. One of my primary needs as a child was for the bits and pieces of my life to be arranged in a specific way. I remember vividly an array of boats, airplanes, carnival rides, clubhouse, and just plain things that I either made or imagined I would make. There was always an internal struggle to assert my will and my imagination on the external world.”
A Fort Worth native, Haddaway was selected to attend an intensive art program for advanced fifth- and sixth-graders. Following this experience, Haddaway did not involve himself in art until his college days. Educated at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi with an associate arts degree, he then earned his bachelor of fine arts from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1972. He did graduate studies at North Texas University in Denton, and later returned to the graduate program at the University of New Mexico.
In 2001, Haddaway and two other artists were each awarded $150,000 commissions to create public works at Albuquerque’s Tingley Beach. The installation of Haddaway’s project “El Bosque de los Suenos” or “Forest of Dreams” was completed in 2006-2007 at the lake-filled park along the Rio Grande near Albuquerque’s Zoo, Aquarium and Botanical Gardens. The largest of his pieces in the installation is 35-feet tall and is visible from the main thoroughfare in the city.
On the subject of public art, Haddaway has said, “It is important that artists pay attention to the public that interacts with their artwork; the trend to define an artist’s status as cultural ‘hero’ if they have left their audience behind is, in my view, shortsighted. While it is not wise or necessary to pander to the public, it is equally unwise to pursue elitism as an end in itself. I have been very fortunate that my artwork appeals to a wide audience. People, both young and old, the educated, and the uneducated often tell me that they enjoy what I do. I see this as a positive thing. Public art provokes, entertains, soothes and prods. It runs the gamut in creating reactions, but it should never bore.”
His works will remain in the Here and Now Gallery at the museum, 1705 W. Missouri Ave., through Oct. 4. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call the museum, 683-2882.
Preparing his talk for the opening reception, Haddaway said in an interview with the Reporter-Telegram, “Brought up a lot of old memories again.”
Among those memories was the time he put sticks in a circle and called it a merry-go-round. He told his mother that the only missing element was music.
“I think I had it in my mind that they would move if the music was there,” Haddaway said. “I love the simplicity of that thought. The idea if you get some music, it will make the sticks go around.”
What: Ed Haddaway Sculptures in the Here and Now Gallery
Where: Museum of the Southwest, 1705 W. Missouri Ave.
When: now through Oct. 4.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 2-5 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: free. Donations are accepted.
Information: The exhibition is part of the Imagination & Initiation: Contemporary Artist Series 2009.