On the day I visit the home of Ginny Kaul to chat about her recent art acquisition, the sun is not out but if it were, it would be dancing jubilantly on the blue-green faceted glass surfaces of an intriguing sculpture in her front yard.
Instead, soft gray clouds drift overhead, and the sculpture appears muted, disarmingly peaceful like an exuberant child who ran wild all day and suddenly gives in to deep restorative sleep. Those who gaze upon him sense impenetrable calm and peace but behind closed eyes, he’s already dreaming of tomorrow’s big adventures.
Many of you will recognize Fossil II, now located on Ginny’s lawn on Crystal Springs Drive, from its one-year tenure in front of Town & Country beginning the summer of 2019 as part of the Public Art Committees Something New rotating art program.
A few months after Fossil II’s installation, Ginny and her husband Mike moved to Bainbridge Island. It was just two days before Christmas and two months before the pandemic. Seeing the sculpture on Winslow Way drew Ginny in on a deep level. She said, “I found myself craning my neck just to catch a glimpse of it.”
At a time which would have normally been spent getting to know her new neighbors and exploring the larger community, Ginny found herself grappling with the uncertainty presented by a global pandemic and the trying nature of adhering to a strict quarantine.
The glimmering DNA-like sculpture tugged at Ginny’s heartstrings. As she explained: “There was something about the piece that spoke to me, and I think it had to do with where I was emotionally at that point. And I think that was the same kind of point for a whole lot of people because the pandemic has been tough on us, and we have been looking, whether we recognize it or not, for something to be a salve on the wound or to find something bright coming out of it. For me, this (sculpture) is just a bright thing. I didn’t realize there were places where you could see something gorgeous and then have a chance to buy it.”
And that is exactly what she did.
A retired schoolteacher, Ginny admits purchasing a piece of sculpture was a bit of a stretch, and is thankful Arts & Humanities Bainbridge and the city worked with her to help make it happen.
“It was a little more than I maybe should have been spending, but they made a way for me to be able to do it. The city and the artists (Fossil II is a collaboration between Lin McJunkin and Milo White) got their full payment, and I’m making payments to AHB for the remainder. I feel gratitude.”
The sculpture now sits on Crystal Springs Road, where Ginny and Mike live. It is a close-knit neighborhood. Residents routinely walk, run and cycle on the street with homes on one side of the road and the shoreline on the other. Initially, Ginny found morning walks “the key to socializing and getting connected.”
“What I realized is that it wasn’t just us, everyone out there was starving for connection,” Ginny told me. “We discovered the roads around the island were important to everyone for more than just getting your heart rate up but also for reaching out and finding a friend behind the mask and across the road.”
Connecting was important to Ginny. While she purchased the sculpture to bring light into her own life, she placed it where it’s easily seen so that it might bring light into the lives of others.
“I’m a bleeding heart type,” she admitted. “I think whether you can afford it or not, everyone deserves to see beauty in their life, and they deserve to see art like this. Whatever person needs to see that at that moment, there it is.”
Ginny describes neighbors’ reactions to the sculpture as a mixed bag. While most gave “strong approval,” one skeptic didn’t see the value in spending money on art and asked her, “What did you do that for?”
A highlight came last summer when she overheard voices discussing the sculpture while she was weeding thick amongst the flowers and hidden from view. “Oh look, that was in town!” Then a contradictory voice, “No it wasn’t!” and finally another chimed in, “Yes, it was in front of T&C!” Curious, she popped her head up to see three little boys on bicycles who’d stopped to take notice. Smiling, she confided, “As a retired teacher it’s nice to know you can keep on and still make a difference.”
While Ginny dearly loves this sculpture, she didn’t dearly love its original name (Fossil II) and has renamed it Ascension, “the last thing I wanted during Covid was a morbid name like Fossil!”
She changed the name with the artists’ blessing. Lin McJunkin told Ginny people do it all the time. As we speak about this name changing business, Ginny is reminded of something her oldest son, also an artist who loves creating modern expressive art, once said: “When he does something that’s really striking to me, I ask him what it is, and he says it’s up to you, what do you see in it? What do you need it to be right now?”
With that in mind, she explained: “I needed Ascension. I needed to know that whatever souls were leaving this earth were going out into the atmosphere, the stratosphere, into the universe, becoming part of something greater. If you look at the statue, you can just practically see them disappear.”
I serve with Ginny and Mike on the board of Arts & Humanities and look forward to continuing our conversations about art. The Public Art Committee is a sub-committee of Arts and Humanities. Those of us serving on the board and the committee work tirelessly to bring exciting, diverse works of art from localo artists to the island for public enjoyment.
All sculptures which are part of our rotating ‘Something New’ program on public display in Winslow are available for private sale. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about our collection.
OTHER ARTICLES BY DENISE:
BI Online Sites Remind Me of Dumpster-Diving Days
Should I Stay or Should I Go!
Air Time: Talking Tillandsia with Sam Rader of Valley Nursery
Suggested Reading List for April Poetry Month
Neither Snow nor Rain nor Heat nor Gloom of Night (…but mostly snow)
History, Community and Art Converge at Pleasant Beach Village
New Sculptures in Familiar Places: Public Art Installations on Bainbridge Island
Green Light Garage: The Motherboard
Denise’s Favorite Virtual Gallery Tour: The National Cowboy Western & Heritage Museum
ABOUT DENISE STOUGHTON. Inspired by globe-trotting, art, fashion, technology and nature, Denise has spent a lifetime in the creative realm first as a home products industry design executive in New York City and more recently as an interior designer on Bainbridge Island. Her line of wall planter décor called Modern Airhead is made locally and sold at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA) gift shop. Writing has been a life-long passion and she’s authored blogs, articles and essays for mo-minski.com as well as for bainbridgecurrents.com. Denise serves on the Public Art Committee and is a board member of Arts & Humanities Bainbridge. Her chihuahuas Tula and Milo are constant companions and often accompany Denise around town riding shotgun in her VW Beetle. Visit denisebidesign.com to learn more about her work.