The third annual People’s Sculpture Race (PSR) at the 2017 Cambridge Arts River Festival was once again a stupendous and hilarious success for artists and engineers, art lovers and racing enthusiasts, families and flaneurs. Here’s the link to images by Andrew Held and Tye Martin.
This was our second year at the Lechmere Park site in East Cambridge. The field of 12 racing artists sped 3/4 mile along the headwaters of the Charles River down the Cambridge Parkway, then back up a sidewalk crammed with passers-by whom PSR volunteers struggled vainly to restrain.
We are very grateful to our jurors this year–MIT Museum Curator Deborah Douglas, who also handed out trophies at the awards ceremony; Leslie University College of Art and Design Dean Richard Zauft; and Kinetic Sculptors Nancy Selvage and David Lang, both members of the Boston Sculptors Gallery.
David Lang, who had planned to join the PSR team and had nurtured emerging artists and engineers for sculpture racing, passed away in November, after an oncoming car hit and rocketed a deer through his windshield. “His loving spirit kinetically left his body and passed into the hearts of those who loved him,” his daughter Amy Zapata said at the memorial service, We miss David dearly.
New This Year
There were three major innovations to the race this year.
First–instead of trophies for best speed (first, second, and third place across the finish line), trophies were given for speed (first across the finish line), most spectacular, and most ingenious. PSR Team Member Rory Beerits generously crafted brilliant trophies for the third time this year. Thank you, Rory! (Held image)
Second, The Fund for the Arts, a public art program of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), generously bestowed upon us a one-time grant for 2017’s races, which included a purse divided equally among the teams that participated in the River Festival Race. On behalf of the PSR team and all of the racers, thank you NEFA!!!
Additionally, for the first time folks who initially participated in the April Community Sculpture Race at Danehy Park participated in the River Festival Race. This met our hope that the community race would serve to recruit community members, families, and kids into the River Festival Race, and also that our workshops could bring racing tyros up to engineering speed. These two teams were the Schainker-Frehywot Family (which ended up winning the speed trophy!) and the Fornasaro Family. Workshops were held by David Lang and PSR Chief Engineer Jeff DelPapa.
The workshops and the Danehy Park race were sponsored by PSR’s partner in art the Cambridge Arts Council (CAC). The CAC granted PSR a Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) Local Cultural Council Arts Access grant last year. The CAC were also our gracious hosts at the River Festival. Thank you, Jason Weeks, Julie Barry, Arts Council and Cultural Council!!!
Field of Twelve Racers
|Beeline to the Finish Line||2017||Schainker-Frehywot Family|
|The Ladder Machine||2017||Natalie-Newton Pelletier|
|Sisyphus Was a Journalist||2017||Multi Gallant Enterprises|
|Biblio Burro*||2017||Scott Ruescher|
|Platonic Solid Orrey||2017||Daniel B. Rosenberg|
|Snake in the Grass*||2017 & 2015||American Family Happily Institute/Be Be|
|Planet Express 2.0*||2016||Fornasar Family|
|Sisyphus*||2015r||Harvard Physics Team/Kim Bernard|
|Who Carnio Flunx*||2015||Jeff Del Papa and Parts & Crafts|
|Dizzy the Cat*||2015||Jeff Del Papa and Parts & Crafts|
|Wheel #1||1982||Bill Wainwright|
*The work or an earlier version has raced with PSR before.
Speed Winner: Beeline to the Finish Line by the Schainker-Frehywot Family. The family worked with David Lang to engineer bee wing motion. Images: Left, Isaac weaving through the crowd; right, Elizabeth, Isaac, and Gojeb accepting trophy. (Held & Martin images, respectively)
Ingenuity Winner: Sisyphus by the Harvard Physics Team with Kim Bernard. Among many highly ingenious works this year, Sisyphus won for its wacky genius in running on square wheels. This works because the wheels roll smoothly on its catenary semi-circular tracks which racers must continually run forward after the ‘boat’ passes. This was the second time Sisyphus has appeared at a PSR race. It also raced last summer at the inaugural Rockland Sculpture Race in Rockland Maine, which Kim founded. Kinetic artist Kim Bernard is on the PSR’s advisory board. (Held image)
Spectacle: Who Carnio Flux by teens and artists from Parts and Crafts with Jeff DelPapa. The work, based on a Dr. Seuss machine, has multiple human sound-making instruments. Parts and Crafts is a Somerville maker space for kids. Jeff is PSR’s Chief Engineer. (Martin image)
Schooling by Artist Operation, a piece celebrating the power and beauty of collaboration. Another work of genius by one of the home teams! The fish miraculously wiggle driven by cams. Everyone gets lots of spinning exercise. (Held image)
The Ladder Machine by Natalie Newton-Pelletier. Natalie discovers the joys of hamster-tude. (Held image)
Sisyphus Was a Journalist, by Multi Gallant Enterprises. The sisyphean metaphor for futility is here applied to journalists, fated to doggedly fact-check the Trump administration’s every tweet. (Martin image)
BiblioBurro by Scott Ruescher and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The work is based on Luis Soriano’s traveling library that distributes books to patrons from the backs of two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, in remote populations on Colombia’s Caribbean shore. Scott also co-read the PSR Manifesto at the event. Thank you, Scott! (Held image)
Platonic Solid Orrery by Daniel Rosenberg. An orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system that demonstrates and predicts through kinetic motion relative positions of solar bodies. In 1596, Johannes Kepler proposed that the distance relationships between the six planets known at that time could be understood in terms of the five Platonic solids. Daniel worked with David Lang on the mechanics of the Orrery. (Martin image)
Snakes in the Grass, by the American Family Happily Institute. The work “helps us remember that, just like most snakes, most people are not out to get us. They may be in our way sometimes, but they usually want to get out of our way and go about their day trying to survive, just like we do.” (Held image)
Planet Express 2.0 by the Fornasaro Family with Raquel Fornasaro. The Fornasaros worked with David Lang on a custom propulsion system for the space vehicle (bubbles). (Held image)
Dizzy the Cat, by Parts and Crafts children and artists with PSR Chief Engineer Jeff DelPapa. The kitty’s paw bats at a kinetic bird that flys around it. (Held image)
Wheel #1 by Bill Wainwright, 1924-2012. Bill was a member of the original sculpture racing group, World Sculpture Racing Society, in the 1980s. He had been an architect and retired to become a full time public artist. His Wheel #2 raced (and won first place) in PSR’s inaugural River Festival race in 2015 and was subsequently accessioned by the MIT Museum. Wheel #1 raced this year kindness of Clara Wainwright. Thank you, Clara! (Martin image)
Nicholas Herold & Em Bridgham for timing the racers and deploying the large racing flags for managing starts and finishes; David Eggers for managing load in and the site. Emmalee Todd for holding down the welcome table. Chris and Scott Kyle for transport help. Doug Hayden for garaging Wheel #1. And all of our fans and supporters unnamed.
We’ll see you all again in 2018!
Rory Beerits, Jeff DelPapa, T.T. & Dennis Svoronos, Rock Louis, Daniel Rosenberg, Scott Ruescher, Wendy Whoriskey, Andrew Held, Christian Herold
People’s Sculpture Racing Team