Young Faun

Now that the Chihuly Exhibit is packed up and leaving the Dallas Arboretum, I’m paying more attention to some of the other sculptures tucked in amongst the (now mostly brown) greenery.

I’ve already written about The Neighbor, the Bronze Couple, Playdays, and the fountain at Toad Corners.

There’s more.

Hidden away off a side path in the A Woman’s Garden is “Young Faun” – by Brenda Putnam.

Youn Faun, by Brenda Putnam, Dallas Arboretum, A Woman's Garden

Youn Faun, by Brenda Putnam, Dallas Arboretum, A Woman’s Garden

Brenda Putnam was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 3rd 1890. Her father, Herbert Putnam, was the Liberian at the library of Congress in Washington DC. Putnam first studied sculpture at the age of 15 at the Boston Museum Art School from 1905 – 1907. She then studied sculpture under James Earl Fraser for a year and later enrolled in The Art Student’s League in New York City and at the Corcoran Art School in Washington DC.

Putnam’s first exhibit was in 1911 and in the years following the First World War she was commissioned to do several fountains, sundials and other garden accouterments. She won the Barnett Prize at the National Academe of Design in 1922 and the Wildner Gold Medal at the Pennsylvania Academe in 1923. Up until 1927 Putnam’s work was comprised mostly of children, cherubs, and garden ornaments and in 1927 she traveled to Florence, Italy to study. When Putnam returned to New York she continued sculpting and in 1935 she was awarded the Waterus Gold Medal at the National Academe of Design.

Throughout her career, Putnam was awarded many monumental commissions including: a Memorial to the women of Virginia in Lynchburg, Virginia; the Congressional Gold medal awarded to Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King; and the bas reliefs over the visitor’s gallery in the US House of Representatives. Her last large commission was a bust of Susan B. Anthony done for New York University in 1952.

Brenda Putnam was always an active member of the art community. She was a member of the National Academe of Design, a fellow of the National Sculpture society, and the author of a book titled The Sculptor’s Way.

Brenda Putnam, American sculptor, 1890-1975

Looking around the web, there are some cool sculptures of that she has done here and there. I need to make a list of these things so I can look for them when I travel. Her work seems to have become more serious and less playful as time went on. She did an amazing work for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York – The Crest – but I have no idea where that would be now. She has a well-known statue, Puck, in the Folger Shakespeare library in DC – it has an interesting history:

From the Wahsington Post:

The Folger’s Happy Mending

By Nicole M. Miller

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, January 10, 2002

For all his mischievous doings and undoings, when it came down to it, Puck couldn’t save his own skin.

It took a bunch of mere mortals to get that job done.

Two years ago, the statue of the Shakespearean sprite that stood outside the Folger Shakespeare Library was in pretty bad shape. Acid rain had been eating away at the marble, and a skateboarder trying to give the imp a high-five had broken off the statue’s right hand.

Now, Puck is back. On Monday the statue, having undergone extensive restoration, will be formally reinstalled at the Folger — this time inside, at the entrance of its Elizabethan Theatre. Since 1932 it had been outside the building, perched above a fountain and facing the Capitol.

But his old fountain perch above the quote “What fooles these mortals be” won’t remain empty. An aluminum copy of the joker from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will now face the Capitol. The Folger expects the aluminum to withstand the brutal elements.

“There’s no way we could have had [the original] repaired and put him back outside. . . . That would have caused further damage,” says Frank Mowery, the Folger’s head of conservation.

Puck’s severed arm has been reattached, his broken fingertips repaired and his blackened curly locks bleached to their original snowy white. He actually returned to the Folger in October but has been sitting in a shipping crate in the exhibition hall. On Monday he will be moved to a new Ohio sandstone base in the theater’s lobby.

It was the nonprofit Save Outdoor Sculpture (SOS), a joint project of Heritage Preservation and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, that got Puck’s makeover underway with an $8,000 grant.

“They gave us the spark to say, ‘Look, guys, this is scandalous,’ ” Mowery says of the statue’s then-declined state.

SOS Director Susan Nichols is pleased about Puck’s return. Despite her organization’s focus on outdoor art, she says, “there are times and reasons that a piece needs to be moved indoors.”

Others across the country also offered financial support for Puck’s restoration. A couple in Oregon who regularly attend their local Shakespeare festival contributed. A Texan who played Puck in a high school production also sent money.

Even Peter Gazzola gave. At age 15, Gazzola posed as Puck for sculptor Brenda Putnam, a local artist and the daughter of then-Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam. Gazzola sent $50 for Puck’s restoration in 1995 when he was 80, long before the restoration campaign began.

He was inspired to send the money after his son Ronald returned from a trip to Washington with pictures of himself beside the statue. Peter Gazzola, of Rye, N.Y., could see that Puck was already in bad shape.

“When the pictures were developed and I showed them to my father . . . he said, ‘Please fix me,’ ” Ronald says. Peter Gazzola corresponded with the Folger and pleaded that repairs be made. In 1999, he sent $25 more, as did Ronald. But Gazzola won’t see the restoration; he died in June, his son says.

Marble conservator Clifford Craine of Daedalus Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., repaired the obvious breaks, cracks, flakes and discoloration. But one thing couldn’t be fixed: the overall erosion on the sculpture’s surface.

Mowery estimates that one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch of Puck’s flesh is gone, exposing many small bumps of crystalline quartz — bits of harder stone that do not erode as quickly as the softer marble.

“You look at a piece like this, and maybe its aesthetics are diminished because it’s weathered. . . . I’d like to make it look new,” Mowery says. But conservationists don’t do that. “It is weathered, and you can’t change history.”

So the bumps remain.

Once the Folger decided it was best for Puck to move indoors, the library wanted to create a suitable replacement for the perch above the fountain. Marble was too expensive, so it turned to aluminum. The windows and doors of the Folger are also covered with aluminum grating.

“We decided we wanted to make the sculpture fit with the aluminum elements of the facade,” Mowery says.

Before returning to the Folger, the original, restored Puck was shipped to the Modern Art Foundry in New York, where a rubberized mold was made for the replica. The mold was exact, bumpy surface and all.

“It looked like he had chickenpox,” Mowery says. The foundry is sanding the replica’s silvery surface smooth. It will arrive at the Folger on Monday.

“He’ll tone down to this velvety gray that’s on the building . . . and look like he’s always been there,” Mowery says.

The price tag for the project is about $60,000, more than double what the Folger originally estimated. The library has has raised more than $40,000, and next Thursday it will host a benefit reception to celebrate Puck’s return.

There are two little hitches. One of marble Puck’s “Mr. Spock” ears, the right one, still has a small chip. Puck’s fingers need a bit more manicuring as well. That will all be taken care of with a final day of touch-ups, Mowery says.

”This will be the last time he’ll need this cosmetic work.”