Outside David Adickes’ SCULPTURWORX are giant-size heads of the presidents. Inside his studio & warehouse, craftsmen put the finishing touches on them. The Houston based artist is sending 43 of his 18-foot sculptures, including Barack Obama, to Presidential Park and Gardens at WaterLights. The 50-acre, mixed use project in Pearland off Highway- 288 is being called the nation’s next major economic district. Adickes says he wasn’t always a scultpor.
“I’m a painter primarily, but once I started doing big outdoor pieces — the biggest one of course, is the Sam Houston in Huntsville, and 40-thousand people a day see that, and so that really established me as a sculptor in any case.”
Adickes was working on a life-size clay head of Obama, our newest president. He explains his process of magnification.
“I’ll make a plaster cast of it, and I’ll draw lines on the plaster parallel to the ground, every half-inch. I made a computer out of wood and some brass pins on the computer that touch points along that line. So then, I’ll trace those points on paper, and then those are projected on to styrofoam, so I’ll then cut out all these pieces and, when I stack them up, it makes a complete head, the big size, the ten foot size.”
Once the big one is done in styrofoam, Adickes makes a giant rubber mold in two pieces, ears forward and ears back. Concrete is then washed in the rubber mold which is reinforced with steel.
“And we put the two halfs together, weld from the inside, then that’s the complete head.”
Adickes says the more data, the more successful the resemblence.
“Lincoln was the easiest because nobody looked anything close to Lincoln. The hardest one was uh, Gerry Ford. Some are easier, some are harder. The earlier ones like Madison, there were no photographs, and the few paintings of him don’t look exactly like the same person.”
Adickes made seven of the presdiential statues about four feet taller than the others.
“History Department heads are asked to vote on their choice for the great presidents, the near great, the average, below average and the failures. And Lincoln is always number one on that. But when you see then all lined up, you wonder why they’re bigger. It’s because they are considered the great presidents, and everybody else is the same.”
Unlike the other two presidential parks that display his works, WaterLights will be free to the public. Adickes says it will give school children a lesson in American history.
“Cause there’ll be a panel next to each president of an historical account of his position, and that’s very beneficial, I think, to the kids.”
The Presidential Park is set to open in September. More information on the project can be found at www.waterlightsdistrict.com.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.