"I became acquainted with the work of Wallace French in the Spring of 1974. After a referral from
a designer in our New York office, I have followed his work and development very closely.
As an architect, I find his work very original, possessing an order that can be compared to that of a beautiful structure. He is just budding! His environment speaks of the man, his orderly way of thinking thus his orderly way of living and the execution of the spaces he created in remodeling a loft. The conciseness of his art, the clarity I feel are a direct product of his environment. This I discovered in September of 1975. He is a splendid craftsman. Very skilled with hands, he is very concerned about high level quality in the execution of each piece he does. I would for one, encourage him in every way possible: to do more, to develop and to execute his scale sculpture. I am curious as to what the enlargement of scale will do for his work; how it will affect the impact, the geometry. The wall reliefs are very special, extremely original and very powerful. I look forward to the talent of Wallace French coming to bloom in the years ahead." - Robert Kleinschmidt
As a graduate of the Ontario College of Art, I was fortunate to win 3 Canadian Council Grants to work in New York City from 1968 to 1970. This was followed by a brief time serving as the Director of the Ontario College of Art NYC Off Campus Program. As the hub of creativity, it was clear that New York would become my new home where I would spend the following years immersing myself in the ever changing art world.
In addition to a few private collections, my work can be found in such places as the Canadian Consulate General, the Albright-Knox Museum, Piaget Offices in NYC, and the Larry Aldrich Museum. I've also had exhibitions in Toronto, Quebec, Connecticut and New York City.
As an artist living in New York, you never take for granted that you can come upon iconic buildings just by turning a corner. Inspiration, beauty and creativity are everywhere.
10' H x 2' W x 9' L - Wood, Laminate and Canvas Base (12' L x 49" W)
"TO RECREATE TWIN TOWERS: ONLY A WEEK AFTER 9/11,
SCULPTOR BEGAN WORK ON A MEMORIAL" - The Jersey Journal
The attack on the World Trade Center made a lasting, painful impression on Wallace French of Jersey City, as it did on many people, here and abroad. Unlike the average person, though, this talented sculptor transformed his reactions into a powerful work of art that symbolizes the destruction of a landmark in stark terms. "I am interested in sculpture as architecture," the 64-year-old native of Newfoundland told me as he showed me around the studio he built, in what used to be a boiler room in an abandoned factory.
"As you see, the shattered pieces on the ground floor represent the attack in 1993. The smashed pieces on the higher floors represent where the planes hit the WTC in 2001," he said quietly. "I used to have a studio in that part of New York City. I watched the Twin Towers being built, and I watched them die from my home in Jersey City." The artist began to work on the sculpture a week after 9/11.
French has two miniature versions of his twin tower sculpture made of laminated wood: one in black, the other in white. "I envision the large scale finished piece will have the names of all those who died in the attack inscribed on the base in black marble," he explained. (He has entered his original design in several competitions for a WTC memorial in the past few years.)
According to French's vision for the piece, the completed WTC memorial would be about 50 feet high, in silvery granite. The artist believes that the WTC tragedy should be commemorated by a work that "tells you a major disaster happened here." In his view, the site should be more than a burial ground.
"I'm not a traditional sculptor," French noted. "I want the viewer to see buildings in a different light," he explained, pointing to a large black piece that reached nearly to the top of the high ceiling. "This 'building' is all form; there is no color, and there's a cliff that can suggest danger. I would like to see one of my designs constructed as a building."
French moved to Jersey City 15 years ago, seeking more affordable studio space. "I like to say I crossed the moat-the Hudson River!" His commercial assignments include designing sets for television and theater companies. "When I get a commission from a theatrical group, they send me a drawing of what they want, and I create a set using that as a guide," he explained. French's designs, for the popular tourist attraction Planet Hollywood, are in place all over the world. He also created sculptures for the New York Botanical Gardens.
"As an artist, I really like Jersey City. I took this space, which was a big mess, and renovated it myself in about a month," he said. (He shares the studio with his three large dogs: Zeke, Zack and Zoe, who have their own kennel in the rear because they like to be with him when he's working.) French taught portrait painting at the College of Art in Ontario and came to this area on a Canada Council Grant to study in New York City in 1968.
"I think my vision is out of the mainstream," he said, adding that he has difficulty parting with his sculptures. "They're like my children. When I sell them, I feel as though I have lost touch with them. I really prefer to keep them for myself," he said. But he agrees that the dramatic World Trade Center memorial should be seen by the public. "It was painful to create, and it's painful to think about, even now," he said. "I would like to find a home for this, as it belongs outdoors, maybe in a corporate center."
Copyright 2004 The Jersey Journal. All Rights Reserved. Used by NewsBank with permission.
Record Number: 041117_JOS11170_WEB