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DOOR

Artist

Gene Kangas

Description:

Door is 20 feet high x 24 feet wide x 40 feet long. It was commissioned by the Mildred Andrews Fund as part two of a trilogy of sculptures for donation to Cleveland State University. DOOR commemorates the family and is constructed of heavy Corten steel and stainless steel. It... Read more

Door is 20 feet high x 24 feet wide x 40 feet long. It was commissioned by the Mildred Andrews Fund as part two of a trilogy of sculptures for donation to Cleveland State University. DOOR commemorates the family and is constructed of heavy Corten steel and stainless steel. It includes large structural forms and three different generations of multiple race silhouette figures, which are 1-1/2 times life-size along with a big cat and a flock of birds.

The large sculpture surrealistically zooms into existence from the prominent mound and presents us with an enigmatic domestic scene. It raises questions. Massive abstracted door frames made from heavy steel channel rise from right to left, one by one, as if growing out of the ground. Perpendicular to the final frame, is an over-sized door frame, complete with an open door. Free standing in the doorway is the silhouette of a woman, Gene’s mother Martha.

The woman’s floral dress suggests a symbolic representation of Mother Earth. Beside her, is the silhouette of a little boy holding a baseball mitt and bat. The boy, Pepi Stuart Jr., was modeled after the son of one of Kangas' long-time basketball friends. Behind both of them, on a perpendicular plane, a man in a trench coat and briefcase walks to work. His name is Omar Parker. Together, they represent the human family.

Dingle the cat rests on top of the doorway and is the same cat seen in Kangas' other works. Dingle stares at the birds dotting structural beams rising out of the ground. Door is the second iteration of ideas presented in Upper Arlington’s Dingle. Kangas noted that the introduction of both domestic and wild animals into a piece along-side humans creates a series of complex and interesting relationships ie. pet/master, predator/prey, etc.

One reason that Kangas often uses silhouettes in his pieces, is that by necessity, there are many angles where important elements of the work completely vanish. When looking at the mother and son head on, it's nearly impossible to see the man. And when looking at the man in profile, the rest of the family becomes thin, narrow and obscured by the doorway. Gene said that basing what you can see on what you are focusing on helps craft a narrative for each of the characters, and it expands their relationship in a unique way that cannot be as well executed otherwise.

At the time of the installation, Door was protested by some who felt the domestic scene presented was "placing women in traditional gender roles." They took the artist’s written explanation out of context. Actually, the figures represent different generations, different races, with different expectations. Things change through time. Kangas stated that the sculpture isn't a commentary on what should or shouldn't happen, rather he wanted to illustrate a slice of some traditional families, where the father worked, the child played, and mother was at home. Each has choices. Today the mother is free to come or go. She is in an open doorway, not attached, independent but part of a greater whole.

The open door is between inside and outside, public and private, home and other, today and tomorrow. It is a connecting portal, a passageway forward through time. You can’t go back.

Description provided by the artist, Gene Kangas

Dates

Made: 1986

Media
Info about this place
Wheelchair Accessible
ADA Accessible
Categories
Sculpture
Address:

2351 Euclid
Cleveland , OH 44115
County

Materials

Heavy Corten Steel & Stainless Steel

Dimensions

Length: 40 ft
Width: 24 ft
Height: 20 ft

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