"Art is much less important then life, but what a poor life without it."
In May of 1984, a colorful and whimsical sculpture was dedicated to the town of Berkeley, by local artist, Joe Slusky. The artist titled the piece, "Calliope," and was commissioned by the City Of Berkeley's Department of Parks and Design. The sculpture was placed for display permanently at the Berkeley Marina, where it has weathered storms, sun, and the natural aging process. Over time however, the salt air had dulled her bright pastel colors, and her paint began to chip, but fast forward in time to 2004, that's when the Berkeley Public Art Maintenance Project, lovingly restored the time beaten Calliope to her original, joyful self. And what a lovely, inspiring sculpture she is.
Calliope is an 11 foot steel sculpture that took Slusky over two years to complete. Local art critics from around the Bay Area hailed the piece as eccentric, whimsical, and playful. The artist describes Calliope as "a fossilization of the imagination." I have to say, as I sat admiring her today, I simply couldn't get enough of her color and seemingly endless twists and turns. So many thoughts went through my mind as I gazed upon her.
Yellow, aqua blue, lavender, red and green, and all the emotions they evoke. I think the most important impression that I got from her, might have been how enthusiastic she was, and how positive she made me feel. Looking at her was like looking at a lovely cloud formation and seeing all the wonderful possibilities that life holds. Musical notes, arms outstretched with love, puzzlement, amusement, and just sheer joy. Calliope is a dazzling sculpture of fanciful energy, that is the perfect contrast to the quiescent nautical blues and whites of the marina.
Artist Joe Slusky's art is widely acclaimed and is displayed throughout California. He has taught art for many years in the Bay Area, and is now a lecturer in the Architecture department at the University of California, Berkeley.
June 7, 2005
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