Work in Motion -- or so It Seems
The impressive sculpture "Gallo Grande" is best viewed from different angles, so take your time looking at it. It was designed at a time when the sculptor, Craig Schaffer, was experimenting with fractal forms. He stated, “The entire sculpture series is based on fractal forms—the shapes created by the ongoing processes of Life, such as the branching of plants to catch the sunlight, the convoluted unfurling of clouds, the formation and fracturing of mountains from the forces within the earth, and the jaggedness of the coastline as it interacts with the sea." Because of the non-linear, reflexive nature of real life, these processes tend to follow spiral paths. So his sculptures all contain spirals that, instead of illustrating any specific phenomenon, grow in the same reflexive manner as real complex systems.
The sculpture has weathered well since its initial installation in 2008 for the Foggy Bottom Association's "Arts in Foggy Bottom" Exhibition - it is one of five artworks on this tour that were created for the Arts in Foggy Bottom and purchased as permanent installations.
Grande Gallo at home in the summer garden
The shapes and different planes of the sculpture create a sense of motion
Detail shows attachments of steel shapes
Close up of Grande Gallo
Schaffer, Painted steel, "Firebird" sculpture
Schaffer, Stone sculpture, "Origin of Double Helix"
In the early 1970s, Foggy Bottom was a haven for its artists
Backstory and Context
During Schaffer's fractal period, his sculptures contain spirals that, instead of illustrating any specific phenomenon, grow in the same manner as real complex systems to produce fractal forms. The rhythms and proportions of events and objects, cultural and natural, organic and inorganic, are similar because dynamic complex systems follow some basic rules of organization and co-evolution. All phenomena accumulate and break down according to internal and external interactions that are periodic in similar, if not precisely repetitious ways. The challenges he faced as a designer to place the fractals in various positions for balance and form make his work remarkable.
This sculpture at the yellow house with the red door is the first of the "Arts in Foggy Bottom" installations on this tour. Arts in Foggy Bottom, an award-winning outdoor sculpture biennial in the Historic District, is one of Washington's outstanding public art displays. Since 2007, 87 local, national and international artists have shown their work. With each exhibition a newly selected curator(s) executes their unique vision and enhances the visual opportunities for the neighborhood and public.
It is fortunate for the artists and the community their art has been embraced by the neighborhood, art world, media and public. As a result, several works from past exhibitions have been purchased by Foggy Bottom residents and businesses, becoming a permanent part of the historic neighborhood.
In 2009, Arts in Foggy Bottom received the District of Columbia Mayor's "Arts Award for Innovation in the Arts." In 2013, the Foggy Bottom Association awarded the "Olga Corey Spirit of Community Award" to Arts in Foggy Bottom, recognizing Foggy Bottom residents Jackie Lemire, Jill Nevius, and Mary Kay Shaw, who founded the exhibition in 2007, for their contributions to the community. We are grateful to them for their vision, time and creativity.
Before the Arts in Foggy Bottom Exhibition was formed, the historic district embraced its artists. In 1972, the association requested entries for its "First Annual Left Bank Art Show and Wine Tasting" event. It was held on April 30th at 2405 I St which was at that time a vacant lot (now an apartment building and Argentinian Consulate). The show featured art of mixed media: paintings, pottery, crewel work and more. The arts show was a popular event and continued in the neighborhood for several years.
Arts in Foggy Bottom Exhibition, 2008, permanent collection (see link below)
Hualien County Stone Sculptural Museum Cultural Park, Taiwan, Craig Schaffer (see link below)
Foggy Bottom Association, Foggy Bottom News, Vol. 16, No. 7, February 1972
An Exhibition of Metal Sculptures by Washingtonian Artists Donna McCullough and Craig Schaffer, Artsy.net
Foggy Bottom Association News, February, 1972 issue