Rock steady…

It was late May when we introduced our readers here to an art project that’s underway in the Hudson Valley.

Bob Madden, a stone artist, invited us to follow along on quite an ambitious effort. Madden and his wife, fiber and metal artist Karen Madden, both exhibit locally and work through their Rock and a Soft Place Studio in Dutchess County’s Poughquag.

This summer, Bob Madden is working to create a sculpture for a multi-acre Hudson Valley property that a Manhattan businessman uses as an employee retreat.

The stone Madden chose for the project was originally 10 feet long by 5 feet deep, varying in height from 2 to 5 feet and estimated to weigh some 20 tons. After selection, it was moved within the property and Madden has been carving it ever since.

He offered us a mid-summer glimpse of the progress, grabbing a few photographs after the July 16 work session – and shared a few words about the work.

“The project so far has been a little more difficult than I anticipated,” he wrote us in an email. “The stone is ‘gneiss’ (pronounced ‘nice’) which is more dense than granite and contains quartz deposits or threads running through it which can make cutting and shaping the stone less predictable. (It’s certainly chewing up my tools faster than I’d allowed for).”

He’s found some unique natural features in the stone, which have led him to consider a modified design, and said he’s hoping to stand the piece up in mid-August. That would dramatically change the perspective but still find him with a lot more work to do.

“I’m hoping to have it all done by (the) end of September, so it is completed before the ArtEast Open Studio Tour in mid-October.”

As Madden tells us, the land on which the sculpture is being created will be open to visitors during the event. Stay tuned for our next progress report in September.

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– Mary Shustack

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