How "Immortal" got its name

At about 10 inches high, “Immortal” is one of the smallest pieces in my new show at the Jung Center Houston - details on that below.

“Immortal” might seem like an overly grand name for such a small work, or any work, for that matter. But it’s a title this little guy deserves.

This was once the smallest head on “Seven Generations,” an eight-foot-tall sculpture I just installed in front of the Jung Center’s beautiful building at 5200 Montrose Boulevard.

Needing to rework the base for “Seven Generations,” so I could anchor it more securely in the ground, I had to remove this smallest head, a mere 4 inches high.

I tried to remove it delicately, to preserve it, so I chiseled away at the epoxy. Not making much progress, and in a hurry (as I so often seem to be), I reluctantly picked up a hammer and gave it a good strong whack. It didn’t break, so I gave it more solid whacks, about 10 in all. This little head still didn’t break, but it did come loose. Aside from a minor scuff in the glaze, it remained perfectly intact.

Having survived such blunt trauma, I decided he needed to become his own work of art. I refired him at 2250 degrees to patch up the hole in the top of his head - yet another peril he survived without complaint.

I mounted him atop this axe/hammer/crowbar “emergency” all-purpose tool that my creative and generous friend, Kiki Neumann, had given me a few months earlier. I thought the theme of “danger” implied by this tool (engraved, “Made in New Orieans. Use in Case of Emergency”), was very fitting with this little head’s recent harrowing experiences.

Now immortalized atop this found object base, “Immortal” is part of my “Ancestors” show at The Jung Center, which also includes 2D work by the very talented Ellen Ray.

Opening reception is Sat., Sept. 7, 2019, from 5-8 p.m.

Artist Talk moderated by Anna Tahinci, Ph.D., chair of art history at the Glassell School of Art, is Thurs., Sept. 12, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.