Thursday, May 25, 2006

Salt Lake City (III)

Looking at the sculptures in the Gilgal Sculpture Garden is like listening to Tagalog: Parts of it are familiar, and parts are completely foreign. In Tagalog, the familiarity comes from the Spanish words; at Gilgal, from the recognizable objects in new combinations.

Let me explain: Joseph Smith's head is on the sphinx. A stone quotes Emerson, next to scripture. The creator of it all, Thomas Child, is immensely proud of the coat he wears in his self-portrait sculpture. (Or was, now that he has passed.)

The guide says that Joseph Smith is on the Sphinx "to represent the belief that the answers to life's great questions cannot be discovered with the intellect, but only through faith." Child was a former Mormon bishop and a stonemason, and Gilgal is his life's work. I recall reading that for many years the Mormon church tried to keep the garden quiet, a secret, as if it were an embarassment.

That has ended now, as far as I can tell. The church is one of the patrons on the park. Child's art is more interesting than the art in Temple Square, even with the vandalism that has taken small things, like a plow, out of the garden.

The vandals haven't been caught, nor the pieces recovered. The land all around is slated to become condominiums. I'm not sure which imposes a greater burden.

Self-portrait of Childs


Anonymous said...

Did you sign anything with your real name and address while visiting SLC and Mormon Square? Interesting take on the place. - CLH

Mario Bruzzone said...

No, I used fake names (well, a fake last name), though Susan's housemate in Winnemucca did have the Mormons come to her door after they visited SLC the first time.