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Summer Art Series features tours of Waddell Sculpture Ranch

“The Harpist" by John Waddell. Waddell has sculpted over 150 life size and small bronze figurative sculptures as well as paintings and drawings.

“The Harpist" by John Waddell. Waddell has sculpted over 150 life size and small bronze figurative sculptures as well as paintings and drawings.

Originally Published: June 17, 2019 10:44 a.m.

Goldenstein Gallery’s enchanting Summer Art Series continues this week with the first of four exclusive tours of the Waddell Sculpture Ranch. Filled with lively events and delightful opportunities to connect with art and artists, the Summer Art Series is designed to stir all of the senses. Beautiful outdoor sculpture throughout Sedona and art that brings nature inside to us, both paintings and sculpture, are featured throughout the series.

Internationally renowned for his bronze nudes depicting the human form, John Waddell’s work has had a dramatic impact over seven decades on communities and has opened hearts and minds.

The first of four tours slated over this summer season takes place this Friday, June 21, from 9-11 a.m.

Space is limited for this special event, please contact Goldenstein Gallery to reserve your spot.

“My work is a strong statement regarding civil rights and the necessity for men and women of different beliefs to understand and revere each other.” Waddell states “I try to go beyond temporal and conventional form to greater variety, more universal, more human.”

A turning point in his art and life philosophy was caused by the tragic 1963 Birmingham, Alabama church bombing.

Four young girls were killed and many people injured when a bomb exploded before Sunday morning services at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

This church, with a predominantly African-American congregation, also served as a meeting place for civil rights leaders. All four of the men linked to the bombing belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. Outrage over the incident and the violence between protesters and police that followed drew national attention to the hard-fought, often-dangerous struggle for civil rights.

Waddell was so moved by this that he immediately went into his studio and began moving things around - making way for something. Feeling something had to be done, to be said. As he was a sculptor, it would be through his art. He and his models would retaliate with peace.

Over the next 15 months, 19 different women from the surrounding community came to pose for Waddell and his sculptural eulogy to the four little girls -- the work that would come to be titled, ”That Which Might Have Been, Birmingham, 1963.”  

These four poignant sculptures, facing North, South, East and West, represent the girls had they grown to womanhood. They are on permanent display at the Unitarian Church in Phoenix and the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center in Phoenix.

In 1964 Waddell and his family moved to Greece with a commission to create the public sculpture “Family.” During the following two and a half years, he exhibited his work in Athens.

As Waddell’s work in groupings of figures continued, the need for more studio space and creative serenity took him further away from America’s art centers and deeper into the remote wilds of the Southwest landscape. Here he built a magnificent studio. Apprentices came from all over the world to study with Waddell. The 12 over life size figure composition “Dance” was completed here.

Away from changing modes of the art world, Waddell entered what would be the most prolific period of his life thus far. He has sculpted over 150 life size and small bronze figurative sculptures, as well as paintings and drawings.

In 1984, a devastating fire burnt his studio to the ground. All of Waddell’s sketch books from childhood on up, many paintings and sketches, the family home and the plaster molds that would have made multiple castings of his work possible – were destroyed.

Nine months later, the Waddells had built a new studio, and “Generations,” a new monumental sculptural grouping was in progress.

The Waddell’s unique dedication to a life in art, continues to lure interested individuals of all ages to the Waddell studio and sculpture garden year round.

Ruth Waddell is also a beautiful pastel artist and many of her pieces will be on display.

Tours are 9-11am, June 21st, July 12, August 23 and September 14th for the Every Day Peace Trail Meditations. Contact Goldenstein Gallery for information at 928-204-1765.

Goldenstein Gallery’s address is 150 State Route 179, at the corner of SR179 and 89A. GoldensteinArt.com