NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

August 30, 2013

Make way for sculpture

Creator of Boston's 'Ducklings' statues is honorary chairwoman of Flying Horse show

By Will Broaddus
Staff writer

---- — Joe DiMaggio had a powerful swing, which produced 361 home runs and earned him the nickname “Joltin’ Joe.”

But his swing was also graceful and inspired Beverly sculptor Ephraim Friedman to capture its motion in bronze.

“What my husband loved was the beauty of his swing; he was rhapsodic about that,” said his widow, Dagmar Friedman.

Her husband’s sculpture of the Yankees slugger will appear with works by 22 other artists in the fourth Flying Horse Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, held on the grounds of Pingree School in Hamilton from Sept. 1 through Nov. 24.

Ephraim Friedman, who died in 2011, was an ophthalmologist who at different times was dean of the medical school at Boston University and president of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

He was born in California, like DiMaggio, and watched the Yankees play when he later moved to New York, Dagmar Friedman said.

“When we moved to Boston, he became a Red Sox fan,” she said.

But Ephraim Friedman started sculpting as a small child and continued to work on his art throughout his medical career and retirement.

“He was not only a brilliant man and a wonderful doctor, but a very talented sculptor,” said Nancy Schon, who created the “Make Way for Ducklings” sculptures in Boston Public Garden and is serving as honorary chairwoman of this year’s Pingree show. “He took classes from me at night.”

Like Schon, Friedman also studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, in addition to taking classes at BU.

Some of Friedman’s best works were portrait heads, Schon said, and included a likeness of the Boston painter Hyman Bloom.

Another North Shore sculptor, Beverly Seamans of Marblehead, who died last year, will be remembered at the show with an exhibit of 10 works in the school’s library.

Like Schon, who will exhibit a sculpture of a pig named Bacon at Pingree, Seamans often chose animals as her subjects.

“I think she was one of the best sculptors of animals in a long time,” Schon said.

Seamans could also create portraits of particular animals in commissioned works, which Schon said takes remarkable skill.

“The subtlety of animals’ features — it’s so hard to find features that are different,” she said. “She could do it. She had a way with animals.”

In addition to re-creating the ducks from Robert McCloskey’s children’s book in Boston, Schon’s own public sculptures of animals have included a pair of prairie dogs for a botanical garden in Oklahoma City and several raccoons in Nashville, Tenn.

“I can say things with animals that I can’t say with people,” she said.

She also likes the fact that people of all ages feel comfortable interacting with sculptures of animals, which they rarely do with human figures.

“You put a 2-year-old on my Bacon, and they’re so happy they don’t know what to do with themselves,” she said.

In a catalog for the show, which will be available to visitors, Schon contrasts the work of sculptors with painters.

“As a painter, one has to make the viewer see a third dimension from a two-dimensional form,” she writes. “Further, the objects in paintings can be flying all over the place, like Pingree’s Flying Horse.

“We, as sculptors, must indicate a form from infinite sides, and somehow that form or that sculpture has to be grounded, even a mobile. As you look at the sculptures, you might want to think about that.”

Along with the pieces by Schon, Seamans and Friedman, the exhibit will include works by Gordon Frost and Gene Sheehan of Salisbury, Michael Updike of Newbury and Lindley Briggs of Newburyport.

The show will also feature an appearance by Groveland sand sculptor Justin Gordon, who will create likenesses of three students from Monday through next Saturday in front of the school, where the public is welcome to watch him work.

Gordon will be unloading the sand on Monday and will begin sculpting it the next day, said Judy Klein, director of communications at Pingree.

Schon said she doesn’t know a lot of other artists and doesn’t go to many exhibits, but she is honored to be chairing Pingree’s event, where she will speak at a reception for the artists on Sunday, Sept. 8.

“It can’t be a nicer place to have a sculpture show,” she said. “The quality of the sculpture is exquisite.”

If you go What: Flying Horse Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit When: Sept. 1 through Nov. 24, with artists' reception Sunday, Sept. 8, at 3 p.m. Sand sculptor Justin Gordon working in front of school Sept. 2-7. Where: Pingree School, 537 Highland St., Hamilton How much: Free More information: www.pingree.org or 978-468-4415, ext. 233