Down Art Avenue: Mountain Masterpieces Art Seen on Vacation
by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star
Aug 13, 2013 | 1082 views |  0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A chuck wagon menu for dinner and singing along with The Flying T Wranglers, a small western music band, were highlights of my family’s reunion in Rapid City, South Dakota. Talking to the group’s expert fiddler that evening reminded me of one of the cultural assets back here at home: the JSU University/Community Orchestra. All of the musicians in the small string ensemble that night said that they had played in similar orchestras, adding that the challenge provided a foundation for their current performances.

Incidentally, the JSU orchestra will meet on August 27 at 6 p.m. in Mason Hall to start practice for the coming season. More violinists are needed, and Mike Gagliardo, the orchestra’s director, can be reached at 256 543-2787.

The Folsom Family Association met for the 98th year for a reunion, this time in Rapid City. The hotel was our base for meetings; then we headed out for excursions to see famous sights. The mountain masterpieces we saw were the Mount Rushmore Memorial and the Crazy Horse carving, both in the Black Hills of the state.

Face to face with history

Mount Rushmore, as you know, can be called a series of portraits in stone. The faces of the four US Presidents dominate the skyline of that area and it’s a not-to-be-missed site. Standing shoulder to shoulder are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln,,as if they were called to a reunion of American leaders. Crazy Horse preserves the culture of the North American Indians. In seeing both, we felt that we came face to face with history. It all was breathtaking and created a feeling of awe and respect for not only the people represented in these national treasures, but for the artists.

The Crazy Horse Memorial claims to be the largest mountain carving in progress in the world. Its sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, born in Boston of Polish descent, was a completely self-taught artist. He started work on the mountain in 1948 on the invitation of Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear with only $174 to his name at age 40. And his children have now taken up the project. His story is immensely interesting.

Getting to Mount Rushmore was just as fun as viewing it. We took an uphill ride in a steam locomotive to Keystone, Mount Rushmore’s location. When the conductor’s call “All A-Boa r-r-r-d” rang out, we were to embark on a rare treat, and a shared experience for all ages on the trip. The steam locomotive (and this one is undergoing restoration) has disappeared from everyday American railroading according to “All Aboard the 1880 Train” printed by the Black Hills Central Railroad. The ride and scenery on this cool, sunny day will be prominent in our journals.

Rushmore was at first a vision in 1923 backed by dreams and determination. Doane Robinson, Superintendent of the South Dakota State Historical Society, first thought of a massive memorial that evolved into the present attraction. This was followed by the 14-year work of American artist Gutzon Borglum. However, funding was a problem until President Calvin Coolidge spent a long holiday in the Black Hills and was persuaded to give a speech that formally dedicated the project as a national shrine; he then promised federal support.

We browsed through the sculptor’s studio on the property and gained insight into the construction of the masterpiece.

Next year we’ll experience city life in Philadelphia for our reunion in contrast to the wide open spaces of South Dakota. But the 1,500 miles of travel this summer was well worth the time and distance.

I move we sojourn!
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Down Art Avenue: Mountain Masterpieces Art Seen on Vacation by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star

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