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What's Up Magazine

A Season of Sculptures

Sep 05, 2014 09:15AM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Gail Greco | Photography by Stephen Buchanan

A young Igbo girl passes into womanhood in present-day Eastern Nigeria, the impetus for sculptor Erogbogbo-Shakiru-OLA to perpetuate the significant milestone with found objects exclusive in his sculpture—used bicycle parts. A chain forms the young lady’s spine—supple and joyous and yet confident—while pointy gears and cranks are stellar baubles on her ceremonial garb, ring-a-ling warning bells shape her tender young breasts, and various tubing turns her eyes, allowing a peek into her buoyant and hopeful soul.

She is stopped in time in a dance, life-size on the front porch of a St. Michaels home where she suggests doing your own passing. Leave a stressful world and enter into the fun, restful, inspiring space of passionate art collectors Peter and Hannah Woicke.

One visitor, a home-package delivery man was so drawn to the art dotting five acres of the Woickes’ property that he hopped out of his truck one day and asked if he could please take a closer look. When the Erogbogbo sculpture needed touch-up at an Easton metal shop, it captivated the craftsmen so much so, he held back sending the completed job back home. “We walked into the shop to ask why it was taking so long to fix rust,” Peter remembers. In the middle of a heap of scrap metal, they saw their re-furbished, so-named Nigerian Dancer, standing majestically—a symbol showing what can rise up beautifully out of what once was.

Art can have that gripping effect, “and you are to personalize its meaning,” Hannah quips. She and Peter let it speak to them and they both listen with their hearts, but never buy a piece, unless they both like it.

The Big Courtship, may show the Woickes’ own continuing honeymoon with sculptures. A male and female torso in bronze by Magdalena Miocinovic Andric captivated Peter on a business trip. The two human forms sans head, legs, and arms, now face Broad Creek. Years later, the Serbian sculptress created the union of those sculptures, The Great Yes, which makes you smile. Peter kept up with the budding artist, encouraging her to move onto the world stage. “You can see her growth to more abstract,” Peter notes, as if a proud father and certainly a doting patron.

Some 16 objects de’ arte hail from Texas to Paris, and England and Ireland, and more locally from Wisconsin by the featured artist at the 2011 Easton Waterfowl Festival, Don Rambadt, whose dramatic owls and songbirds add grace and drama to the Woickes’ property.

It was Around Man, a free-form bronze torso that was the first to come into their lives in 1994, focusing on the “everyman” concept, using the human spine to tout the concept that addresses most creatures. The Eva Drewett piece made the Woickes’ take the leap from paintings to sculptures, where they are also now enjoying the companionship of artists. The Woickes say they enjoy hearing of their interesting lives, which you can peek at too by checking them on the Internet.

When we arrived for this story, Peter was on the phone to sculptor Adam Walls in North Carolina arranging for he and his wife to visit St. Michaels and see in person where they placed his, Taking the Hill, a whimsical mounting of mini cartoonish military tanks going up a 90-degree incline like a conveyor belt only to drop off at the top, crashing on the other side. A call to end wars, maybe?

Last Fall, organic nature sculptor Walter Bailey from East Sussex, England, stayed with the Woickes’ a month to create a commissioned piece, The Cloud. Using his only sculpting tool—a chainsaw—he cut out poufs of sky from a huge tree trunk; then scorched the clouds and suspended them via thinner tree trunks that were on the Woickes’ land.

Creating on site is rare; shipping more common. The Throne by Lee Kelly was shipped from Portland weighing a ton, and making this the Woickes’ largest piece at nearly two stories high. The Thrown, is a large-scale collage of steel incorporating a giant musical note, appealing to the Woickes’ affinity for music. Active in several Eastern Shore programs, Hannah and Peter are ardent supporters of the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival. And another Kelly piece called Inchworm at the Woickes’ was inspired by the music of famed jazz sax player John Coltrane.

Susan Stamm Evans’ fragmented face was easier to ship and draws in the Woickes’ grandchildren at ground level, sitting on the head and letting their imaginations run wild. Their grandparents don’t mind as they want the art to be approachable (They even opened their gardens to the public at a recent community garden tour).

“We want the young generation to enjoy the art,” Hannah explains. When the kids visit again, they might also relate to the Woickes’ most recent acquisition from Easton’s Academy Art Museum. Jay Lagemann created a bronze dog standing upright on two feet, his other two holding a book that’s apparently a riveting read. His tail is the tell-all, suspended straight up in the air. In suspense? Romance?

Sculptures can be puzzling. What are they trying to tell us? Maybe it’s summed up in a work from the Woickes’ homeland. (Peter’s from Dresden and Frankfurt; Hannah from Prague, East Germany, and Hamburg). Tolla Inbar from Stuttgart calls it Puzzled. Easy to understand, it’s still complex, exploring what it means to be human in an intricate universe. The rendition depicts slender human figures, holding puzzle pieces dimensionally larger—as they strive to solve life’s mysteries. Perhaps they suggest we take time out and not look so much for answers, allowing life to flow more like Nigerian Dancer is doing only a few steps away on the other side of the Woickes’ front door, showing absolutely no signs of being puzzled!