From The Eternal Winds event book (March 2000):
Why Eternal Winds?
The name Eternal Winds inspires thoughts of infinite strength and movement. Eternity is a metaphysical hope for most of us, and winds are as transient as anything we encounter in life. The Brazos Valley Millenium Sculpture represents the winds of time as elegant, strong, and eternal.
The artistic genius of Dr. Joe Smith of Caldwell, Texas, led to the creation of the Millenium Sculpture. Eternal Winds was born from his creative mind and masterful hands. He captured the ephemeral nature of time, movement, and space and has used austere steel to share his understanding of those relative terms with us.
How do we judge art?
The secret to understanding a work of art is to know that art has no understanding or purpose other than to allow an artist to come to know, through the process of his creation, truthful emotions and feelings. If the artist succeeds, then the audience will recognize and share those emotions and feelings. Only through such growth do we advance as a civilization.
Judging a work of art as beautiful or ugly or good or bad has little meaning beyond accepting the work as truthful or untruthful. If the work is truthful, the form is irrelevant. If the work is untruthful, regardless of how beautiful or good the form appears, it is inherently bad. Truth in expression and creation should be the only objective criteria for determining the value of the work.
Naturally, if the work is truthful and result of masterful craftsmanship, for example, painting, sculpture, photography, dance, writing and so on, it acquires a financial and cultural value that exceeds the value of expressed truth without craftsmanship (a child’s smiley face) or brilliant craftsmanship without truth (Soviet or fascist style art).
We are very blessed in the Brazos Valley to have acquired a work from Joe Smith. He has met every standard by which we judge a work of art good. Eternal Winds is truthful and the result of brilliant craftsmanship. It is beautiful, and its value is priceless.
Eternal Winds Process and Chronology
From rolled steel, a quarter inch thick, propped upon carpenter horses, did the artist trace the initial lines that would rise toward the heavens as the sculpture took form and expressed itself in a majesty rarely seen.
With the precision of a surgeon, Dr. Smith and Fabrication Engineer Urbanosky used torches to cut through the cold steel until it began to take the shape of powerful sails. Red and blue welding sparks cascaded like a waterfall upon the open fields near Caldwell as the nearby cattle looked through fences, wondering what crazy task the artist and fabricator had engaged with such determination.
After the large fragments were separated from their massive tubular body, they were ribbed with an interior skeleton, giving permanence and strength. Rusty in color, the hardened steel cutouts lay under the sky like immense pieces of a puzzle begging for assembly.
Before the inner skin could be applied, the fabricator hauled the heavy remnants to a large white pit where, with high pressure, he sandblasted the rust from the metal until it took on a somber and gray dignity. Plumes of vaporized sand and metal billowed clouds into the atmosphere as the fabricator, entombed in an astronaut-type suit, explored the depths of Dr. Smith’s creation as though it were a phoenix.
After thoroughly cleaning the interior, additional supporting ribs were welded into place, and epoxy glue was applied as a sealant. After careful preparation, the interior skin, weighing hundreds of pounds, was carefully applied, welded, and trimmed flush. Quickly, the sculpture began to take on a resplendent presence.
Hearing the bellows of steel from the pastoral distance, a group of Arts Council board members visited the assembly site in February. The five of them were astounded to be able to fit into one of the semi-circular base structures with the artist. They all returned feeling awed by such a prodigious creation.
As the date for delivery approached, it became necessary to prepare a foundation on the site selected for Eternal Winds. Professor James Marsh, III, a retired Texas A&M University engineering professor, wrote the specifications and designed the blueprints for the foundation. Because the clay earth in the Brazos Valley can be so unstable, it was necessary to take extra precautions with the foundation. Professor Marsh’s generous contribution served a great cause and is beautiful enough to be a work of art in itself.
Mark Dudley of R.M. Dudley Construction very generously donated the great majority of the tremendous costs of the foundation. Four separate holes had to be dug fourteen feet deep and packed with sand, and then poured with concrete around thick steel rebars and capped steel plates. Mr. Dudley coordinated the intense labor and resources required from Transit Mix Concrete, Shepler’s Batten Drilling, and his own company. His efforts on behalf of art in the Brazos Valley cannot be underestimated.
Once the foundation had been prepared, Steve Beachy, Director of College Station’s Parks and Recreation Department, organized his staff, especially Ross, Curtis, and Gerald, and had them beautify the site, prepare for the delivery of the sculpture, and arrange for the formal installation. Without Steve’s expertise, it is doubtful that we could have installed the sculpture with such ease and without any mishaps.
Meanwhile, back in the open fields of Burleson County, the fabricator and artist began the final stages required to complete the gigantic structure that rivaled the nearby trees in height. Using an immense crane with the expertise of a virtuoso, the fabricator Urbanosky skillfully moved the great pieces into place as he and Dr. Smith eagerly joined piece to piece, forming a perfect unity.
In mid-March, the final stage approached. Edges were sanded, scars repaired and bonded, and permanent sealants were applied. After a last inspection, several coats of ivory paint were applied, and Eternal Winds was ready for delivery, installation, and dedication on the first day of spring of the new Millennium.
Official Press Release
COLLEGE STATION, TX, 25 February 2000. The Arts Council of Brazos
Valley announced today that one of the largest public sculptures in Central Texas will be installed in a public park near the main entrance to Texas A&M University in College Station on 21 March 2000, the first day of spring.
The sculpture is twenty-five feet in height, eighteen feet in width, and eight feet in depth. Entitled “Eternal Winds,” it is made of rolled steel and weighs approximately five tons. The artist is Joe Smith of Caldwell, Texas.
Central Texas’ regional arts council, in announcing the installation, said, “The sculpture is in commemoration of the Brazos Valley’s Millennium celebrations. It reflects the past as a towering imposition of order upon disorder, the present as the aesthetic exploitation of familiarity versus surprise, and the future as an indulgence in fantasy. The artist has expressed himself, and his expression will redefine art for our community.”
Romei said, “Though the massive sculpture is made of cold and austere steel, its soft ivory colored and tall sail-shaped curves spiraling into the sky easily welcomes all those who cast their eyes upon it. Its base resembles a contorted calcified skeleton; not unremarkable when one considers the artist practiced medicine for over fifty years. Yet, gently created within the base, below stern sails, is an arch welcoming interaction. One can easily walk under the six-foot arch and become a part of the work.”
The well-known artist Jon Krawczyk of California points out that a sculpture of this size and beauty could “easily cost upwards of $75,000.” He added, “Dr. Smith is clearly making this affordable considering the price the Arts Council is paying.’’ Romei said that without Smith’s donated in-kind value, it is doubtful the Council could have purchased “Eternal Winds.” He added that the cooperation and generosity of the local municipal officials and business leaders made it all come together. “We are very fortunate that First American Bank and its CEO, Mr. Don Adam, contributed $10,000 to match Bryan’s and College Station’s contributions. Without this team, our vision would have been just that, a vision.’’ The total cost of the sculpture and its installation is expected to be a little over $30,000.
Jere Blackwelder, President of the Arts Council, explained that the location was chosen because we’ve wanted to make a statement to the community that this work, symbolizing the Brazos Valley’s Millennium Commission and Arts Council’s commemoration of the year 2000, represents a united effort on behalf of Bryan, College Station, Brazos County, and Texas A&M University to work together in positive ways to demonstrate the importance of art.”
Blackwelder added that he has taken a special interest in this project because it “demonstrates the need and ability of a community to work together amicably to achieve a wonderful end product.”
Joe Smith, the artist, is a self-effacing seventy-nine-year-old retired physician who lives in Caldwell, Texas, a town with a population of less than 5,000 about 35 minutes south of College Station. With a smile, he will gladly tell you that he delivered more than half the population of the town himself.
Smith welcomes visitors to his home readily. Romei describes a visit like this: “His yard is populated with sculpture he has liberated from raw metal, throw-away yard industrial parts, and old pipes. Upon an embankment is a fifteen-foot abstract crucifixion that brings fright to one’s heart from its severe intensity, a little lower in the yard is a large two-ton sphere of rusting iron with a large chain holding a foot near its equator, and under a mighty oak one can find a transfixed and humbled horse suffering pain from a past little understood. Explanations are difficult to come by, but Smith’s tendency to unite dissimilar things rewards his audience.”
When asked about the meaning of his sculpture, Smith exhales a monk’s pride of tension and release and rhetorically asks the impertinent interviewer, “Who knows?” But don’t be fooled, he knows! Smith is well-read in the classics and in philosophy. He is as likely to tell you of Narcissus’ echo line fate as to describe in medical terms Prometheus’ experience with a regenerating liver induced by Zeus’ fury. Joe Smith expresses himself with power and skill, with creativity and beauty, and with the determination of the World War II battle veteran that he is.
Carol Wagner, past president of the Arts Council and Chair of its Brazos Valley Millenium Commission, said, “Smith’s work was chosen as the Millenium sculpture because its form represents strength, success, and hope. It is a positive work that makes a statement of where we have been, where we are, and where we want to go.” She added that “it will be the absolute main event on the busiest urban highway in Central Texas and will cause the word ‘art’ to be on everyone’s lips.”
Mayor Lynn McIlhaney of College Station explains the city’s support of the arts not as an indulgence but as a requirement. “Support of the arts is a fundamental duty of public officials. We desire to convey the importance of art and culture as a quality of life issue. Fortunately. A percentage of the hotel-motel taxes we collect enables us to support the arts without creating a burden on our citizens.”
Mayor Lonnie Stabler of Bryan, the historic and tradition-rich sister city of College Station, explains that “art enhances the quality of life in a community by making it more beautiful, accessible, and free. It causes people to think in new ways, makes people want to visit parks, and makes people want to ask questions and become involved. Bryan’s government is excited about seeing more public art as we expand opportunities for our residents, redefine our historic districts, and grow.”
Lieutenant General (US Army Retired) Howard Graves, formerly Superintendent of West Point Military Academy and now Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, will be the keynote speaker at the installation. Also present will be local, regional, and state officials. Texas A&M President Ray Bowen has designated Vice President Chuck Sippial to represent him at the installation ceremonies.
It is expected that over 300 invited guests and many members of the public will attend. There is no admission fee, and refreshments will be served. The unveiling ceremony will also include music, dance, and other activities arranged by local artists and affiliates of the Art Council.