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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

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In Arts & Entertainment

"Three Dancers" by Richard Edelman welcomes people to the Third Ward neighborhood. (PHOTO: Mark Winter)

"Three Dancers" joins Third Ward's public art collection


Last summer, OnMilwaukee.com reported on a piece of sculpture called New Pink Planet created by Fox Point resident Richard Edelman that was erected in the Third Ward's Catalano Square. Recently, Edelman – who has multiple pieces of outdoor sculpture in the neighborhood – introduced another piece.

The latest installation is called "Three Dancers" and it's located in Pocket Park, a triangle of industrial land that's under the freeway where St. Paul Avenue, Water and 2nd Streets meet. The land was originally owned by the Department of Transportation but the Third Ward recently obtained a 99-year lease on it.

Last summer, along with New Pink Planet, he also installed a 20-foot sculpture in Gas Light Park called "Little Dancer," a 15-foot-tall piece titled "Sunrise" that's outside the Sail Loft restaurant in the Erie Street Plaza, "Wind" that's located on the Riverwalk and "Adam and Eve" that's in front of the Hudson Business Lounge.

"Three Dancers" is the largest of Edelman's public sculptures and is actually three sculptures of female dancers in traditional ballet poses. The tallest dancer is 24 feet.

"It was a challenge because I was creating something for an ugly little piece of land under an off ramp," says Edelman. "Very unlike the other gorgeous spaces they've commissioned me to put sculpture in."

The installation process started this past winter and currently is in the final stages of completion. Edelman does much of the installation himself.

Each of the dancers is painted one of the CYM colors: cyan, yellow and magenta. "I wanted them to be really bright, to really pop, and they do," he says.

The sculptures are on top of one-ton pieces of lannonstone and are made from steel. "It's not stainless steel, it's not bronze, it's just old fashioned steel," says Edelman.

It was important to Edelman that the sculptures were taller than the freeway ramp so people driving could see them.

"I wanted at least one of the dancers to be a head taller than the ramp.The tallest sculpture is literally head and shoulders above the highway," he says.

Edelman says he was inspired to create the dancers for multiple reasons. Three female figures, he points out, have existed in western art for a long time. Picasso and Degas both have paintings featuring a trio of women.

He also wanted to create something that was positive, lively and recognized the Third Ward as an entertainment district.

The Third Ward Association commissions Edelman to create the work and offers him guidance and input; however, Edelman pays for the creation and installation of his sculptures himself and loans them to the neighborhood indefinitely.

"Basically I say, 'you get the site, I'll get the steel and then we'll agree on the concept,'" he says.

Edelman, who is a retired engineer, says he hopes to put one or two pieces of public art in Milwaukee neighborhoods every year.

Currently, he is working on installations at the Boerner Botanical Gardens. His stainless steel sculpture, "Earth, Wind, Fire and Water" is located in the peony garden and will be incorporated into the curriculum for school groups visiting the gardens.

"Through the sculptures, kids learn about conservation, seasonality and the environment," says Edelman. "These are horticulture pieces. They are relevant to the gardens. This is what I love to do: create sculpture in relation to the environment it's placed in."

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