Walking with Waddell

Detail of the John Waddell Dance installation in downtown Phoenix

I pause each time I pass a work by sculptor John Waddell, whose pieces meld metal with movement to evoke emotion and reflection. Waddell is being honored Friday evening at the Herberger Theater Center, home to his “Dance” works created between 1969 and 1974.

Detail of Dance by John Waddell

I first encountered Waddell’s work when my children attended schools housed at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix — the church where we took our son Christopher to Gymboree classes as a toddler. It was designed by Blaine Drake, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The UUCP has lovely meditation and memorial gardens, which I strolled through on Wednesday before paying a visit to several of my children’s former teachers at Desert View Learning Center.

A winding path with a border of small stones on either side leads from the church parking lot to a Waddell piece titled “That Which Might Have Been, Birmingham, 1963” — created in reaction to a Sunday school bombing in Alahama that killed four young girls.

That Which Might Have Been, Birmingham, 1963 by John Waddell

The UUCP has a long tradition of promoting social justice, and is active in several areas — including immigration, health care, the environment, education, homelessness and gender equality.

John Waddell sculpture at the Burton Barr Central Library

Still, it’s the Waddell work exhibited at the Burton Barr Central Library that I walk by most often, as I make my way from their @ Central art gallery back to my car with an armload of books or goodies from the Friends’ Place shop.

Folks who’ve enjoyed similar walks with Waddell can join fellow appreciators of his work Friday evening as Waddell becomes the 2011 inductee into the Herberger Performing Arts and Broadcast Arts Hall of Fame.

The Nov. 18 ceremony includes an hors d’oeuvres and cocktails reception, a performance by the Phoenix Boys Choir and screening of a Marlo Bendau work titled “Rising: The Art and Life of John Waddell.” Also coffee and desserts, a silent auction and the unveiling of Waddell’s “The Gathering.”

Photograph of sculptor John Waddell taken by Michel Sarda

Recently I enjoyed a photograph of Waddell exhibited in the Herberger Art Gallery titled “Retrospective Exhibition of the Art Photography of Michel Sarda.” Sarda has authored several books, including “John Henry Waddell: The Art and the Artist” — which features more than 400 illustrations.

Sarda is chairing Friday’s event, which benefits the Herberger Theater’s arts education and outreach initiatives. These include the Arizona Young Artists competition, the Wolf Trap program serving preschool and Head Start students, and a multicultural theater camp for homeless, abused and neglected teens.

— Lynn

Note: Other weekend events at the Herberger Theater Center include the iTheatre Collaborative production of Mamet’s “Race” and the Arizona Theatre Company production of “God of Carnage.” Center Dance Ensemble opens “Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen” Dec. 3. Also note that the Herberger Theater Festival of the Arts takes place Oct. 6, 2012.

Coming up: Bella does bridal, ThesCon tales

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