By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
may have noticed, a couple of blocks north of the Trenton town square, a
standing stone next to a pyramid, festooned with a primitive handprint on what
looks like a petroglyphic Etch-A-Sketch, and being menaced, or something, by a
boulder suspended above it. Such drivers may well have asked, “What the heck is
answer is: Art. “Temporal Transect #2,” a sculpture by local artist Jerry
Wallace, is the third installation of the Trenton Arts Council’s ongoing
ArtScapes public art project. The sculpture was erected Dec. 8 on a site
furnished by W.D. Thomas Enterprises, through grants from the Lookout River
Foundation and from TAC with the support of the city of Trenton.
coalition headed by transplanted Manhattan artists Bob Dombrowski and Mary
Petruska, currently of Wildwood, is staging a formal unveiling for the piece at
noon Saturday at Thomas Enterprises’ Highway 11 site, 12700 N. Main Street,
where it will remain on loan for six months to a year.
But for the
long answer, let us go now to the artist himself. That’s not that far a trek:
In the interest of full disclosure, let us begin by stipulating that she who
pens these words said two significant ones – “I do” – some decades past to the
creator of Temporal Transect #2, Jerry Wallace.
reasons, perhaps, that spouses should not interview spouses, and not
necessarily the obvious ones. In this case it is not so much a matter of
nepotism as of the emphatic, not to say combative, Wallace style of marital
discussion, making for interview excerpts like:
Q: Do you want to talk about the significance of
the name, Temporal Transect No. 2?
Q: Will you describe how you built it?
Q: Why do you have to be such a jerk?
A: Well, why don’t you ask intelligent
But what’s to
be done? The Dade County Sentinel is not large enough to boast two art-beat
reporters, and in a county where a new stop sign is a stop-the-presses
headline, a bold installation like TT2 is not a story the Sentinel proposes to
leave lying around attracting flies. So let us wade as best we can through the
conjugal bickering and proceed with our interview, with your narrator as
questioner and artist Jerry Wallace responding. Mostly.
Q: Well, what information,
pray tell, are you in fact willing to part with?
background is in animation and illustration, and those are both mediums that
are used to tell stories. Sculpture is a new medium for me, but that aesthetic
has kind of transferred over. There is definitely a story there, but I am not
going to reveal all the details of it. That’s for people to see for themselves,
or try to find out.
artist stressed that if you’re interested in following that story, please stop,
and get out of your car. “While you can see it going down the street at 45 mph,
it’s best to park and walk and observe it up close, because there are lots of
details in it that you just don’t get from more than two feet away,” he said.
Park on the
south side of the property, he urged, and watch out for trucks: Host business
W.D. Thomas is a transport company.)
In any case,
Temporal Transect #2 is a sculpture of three elements, the largest of which is
a six-plus-foot-tall, heavily decorated piece that the artist calls a “menhir.”
Q: Jerry. Where
did you learn that word, how would you spell it, and what do you think it
A: A menhir is
a standing stone, part of the traditional stone circles that were erected in
Europe and across Britain. Nobody really knows the real purpose for them. They
were either ceremonial structures or possibly astronomical structures for
determining solstices, things like that. When there are two of them, with one
over the top, that’s called a dolmen. Megalithic structures are one of the inspirations
for my piece.
Q: In fact,
there’s a lot of the ancient in this sculpture. Do you want to say anything
about the petroglyphs, like the mark of the hand?
handprint is the universal symbol of prehistoric art. It’s one of the first
pieces of art that people made. Nobody knows if it’s a signature or clan symbol
or just “I was here.” But they’re all over the world, everywhere that people
made prehistoric art. It’s the most basic. It’s us.
Q: So you’ve
got the prehistoric thing going on here. But what about these more modern
objects you have embedded in the stone?
A: They are
found objects that I accumulated. Some of them are representative of our
culture. Others are little incidental things, nuts and bolts and screws, the
common detritus of our lives that are all around us.
Q: Yes, and
when are you going to get it out of the driveway? Well, later. Meanwhile, can
you name a few of these found objects and explain their significance?
A: No. I would rather people go and discover these
things for themselves. I definitely had some things in mind, but if I go ahead
and explain it to them it will take away the experience of art. One of the
great mysteries of art is Mona Lisa’s smile. If Leonardo had just come out and
told people it was because –
has truncated this answer in the interest of preserving the family-friendly
atmosphere of this newspaper, and in confidence that it represents the purest
Q: Anyway. Can
you please – please! – say just a few words about the title of the piece,
“Temporal Transect #2?”
A: A “transect”
is a line, and “temporal” refers to time, so this is a line through time that
connects our time to other times.
The history of
our planet is written in the geologic pages and in the fossil record, but there
are things that are missing that we can’t figure out. As long as the earth
spins, the geologic record will continue to be written with or without us. When
we’re gone, it will be up to whatever or whoever comes after us to be able to
figure it out.
Q: Whoa. So
that’s the menhir. What about the other parts of the sculpture?
A: The other
structure is the pyramid, with energy wands inside. The rod between them is the
energy transfer device.
Q: And this
boulder suspended above the menhir?
A: It’s like
that saying we have down here in the Sand Mountain Zen Redneck Cult and
Existentialist Barbecue Society: “It don’t matter.”
BBQ? That seems an excellent place to leave it.
director of the Lookout River Foundation, said of this project: “We offer
micro-grants to fund projects that are off the radar of the larger arts
organizations. Jerry Wallace, who pushed edges he hadn’t before, is typical of
the people we want to support.”
Indeed. If so, she who pens ’em must here conclude,
with a certain amount of spousal pride, that that is possibly the only thing of
which Jerry Wallace can be said to be typical.
unveiling is free, and the public is invited to attend.