RSA Pavilion – The Panel Process

The process by which our seven era-tablets were to be conceived and produced was a fairly complex one.  I was to give Larry, the artist and sculptor, a general description of each era together with a list of possible subjects which might be included.  Larry was to supply additional historical research and devise the necessary artistic composition for each tablet.  While our sculptor was to have considerable license in the depiction of scenes to be included, PH&J was to monitor the result for historical accuracy and political correctness.  I suppose our principal function was to insure that none of this created an embarrassment for our mutual benefactor, David Bronner.

Larry Godwin would first prepare an 11” x 17” sketch of each panel for our approval.  John Gandy and I would do our mumbo jumbo over each one, ask Mary Ann Neeley for her opinion, and finally secure official blessing from Bronner.  Our artist would then translate the approved concept of each era into a 4’ x 8’ brown-paper rendition, and the approval process would be repeated.  Each time there would be endless debate between Larry, John and me as to the appropriateness of this or that element in the compositions.

After the paper blow-ups were finally approved, each one was converted into a high relief, three-dimension clay version.  With each translation, Larry would change the expression of his subjects, emphasize racial features, or otherwise introduce a subtlety not previously in evidence.  When all the clay boards were ready, we hauled Mary Ann Neeley all the way to Brundidge to offer a critique and give her blessing.  We even tried to persuade Dr. Bronner to make the same trip, but he declined.

Brown Paper Blowups

Godwin’s Brown Paper Blow-ups Stand In a Row Beside the Related Sculptured Clay Version of Each One.
The Foremost Panel Depicts Martin Luther King Ascending the Mountain, While the Scurrilous George
Wallace Scowls Down from the Upper Left Corner.

After all seven clay versions were complete and approved, Larry produced a hard rubber negative mold of each one and transported these molds to an artist’s foundry near Denver, Colorado.  There a wax impression of each original was produced, and a ceramic shell was cast around the wax.  Then molten bronze was poured into the shell, and the hot metal vaporized and displaced the wax.  This final casting was made in segments which were welded together to produce each separate 30 square foot tablet.

Pavilion Stalwarts

The Pavilion Stalwarts on a Visit to the Godwin warehouse studio in Brundidge: L>R: Steve Timms, PH&J’s Field Rep; CH, Project Manager; Sculptor Larry Godwin: and John Gandy, the Park Designer. Gandy and Godwin were both natives of tiny Brundidge, and John constantly guarded Larry’s flank.


-Charles Humphries (“Peril and Intrigue Within Architecture”)

This is one of many RSA Pavilion Park stories. The rest can be found here.

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