Friday, April 17, 2009

Glenn Wolff's evocative sculpture welcomes visitors to the Arboretum's Curtis Prairie

"Prairie Tapestry No. 1: Crane Clangor" by Glenn Wolff
The fading daylight casts Michigan artist Glenn Wolff's work of public art in the UW Arboretum into revealing silhouette. It's an evocation of the prairie environment and its history that was developed by the artist in collaboration with participants at a prairie conference.
... the large metal sculpture that is prominent at the approach to Curtis Prairie. Called “Prairie Tapestry No. 1: Crane Clangor,” it was created by Michigan sculptor Glenn Wolff in collaboration with participants at a conference about North American prairies. It’s one of those works that the longer you look at it, the more you will see and associate. Various elements of prairie life, from sandhill cranes to coneflowers to fire, are depicted. I particularly like the two human hands shown at the bottom corners. I've never asked the artist about them, but to me they symbolize the continuing and evolving relationship between people and the prairie.
I especially like the crane figure's sweep and power, that perfect red patch glowing in the twilight, the only spot of color in the work. (View photo large by clicking through to Flickr and clicking on All Sizes.) I also like the small figure of a buffalo at the bottom in the middle and, yes, the hands in the corners.

I was curious about the artist but it took a while to find any information on Google. If you don't know the title of a work of art and don't know the artist's name, searching for information is a hit-and-miss sort of thing that quickly reveals the shortcomings of words. But eventually I found what I was looking for. Turns out Wolff is a native of Traverse City, MI. He studied art there and in Minneapolis, moved to New York and started working as an illustrator (his work has appeared in the New York Times, the Village Voice and other publications -- as well as several books). He returned to northern Michigan in 1987 and continued illustrating books and working on fine art.
Of all the artists in the Grand Traverse area, perhaps the most visible is Glenn Wolff. Not for a flashy lifestyle or five digit price tags on his work, but rather for the frequency with which he lends his talents and work to aid various organizations and causes.from The Bird in the Waterfall He has become, among other things, the (nearly) official illustrator for the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, his drawings blending water and wood and wildlife to form symbolic representations of the habitats they are working to preserve.
You can see examples of the range of this artist's work at his website.

1 comment:

Glenn Wolff said...


Thanks for the kind words and great photo. This was a delightful collaboration with the North American Prairie Conference attendees a couple years ago. I think over 100 people participated with comments, sketches, photo reference, art direction, and hands on work before- both before the conference online, and during the conference in an on site studio that I set up at the university. There is a companion piece up in Baraboo at the Internation Crane Foundation.

Thanks also for mentioning my website. I can also be found on Facebook.

best, Glenn Wolff