Saturday, August 17, 2019

Burning Question

You may know that one of my guilty pleasures is following what are known as “inanimate” accounts on Twitter. There’s the Bear Statue at MSU, Karl the Fog in San Francisco, even the famed Bull statue of Wall Street. In Baltimore there’s Mr. Trash Wheel and his compatriots, ManWoman Statue, the Ghost of McKeldin Fountain, and the i83 Pepsi Sign.

Of course, right here in Howard County we’ve had a few of our own: Gingerbread Girl, ColGateway (not exactly inanimate) and Ms. Frizz, who looks to be the sassy personality of a certain multifaceted statue at the Columbia Lakefront. Naturally when a new landmark came to town, I was on the lookout for a budding new local Twitter Personality. So far, no dice.

By new landmark I mean Azlon, the kinesthetic sculpture by Anthony Howe which was recently installed by Howard Hughes in the Merriweather District. One wonders what kind of an online presence it may eventually have. No, I haven’t been to see it up close yet. I’m looking forward to it.

One odd piece of local trivial. When I saw the announcement about Azlon, it reminded me of something I had seen some years back. I went digging and found this, from March of 2016.

The YouTube link takes you here, a statue by Anthony Howe named Lucea, which looks alarmingly similar to...Azlon? But Azlon wasn’t completed until August 8, 2017, and didn’t arrive in Columbia until July, 2019. Yet this tweet from 2016 seems to indicate some hint of prior knowledge.

Yes, readers, I’ve hit upon the burning question of the day:

What did Ms. Frizz know and when did she know it?

Seriously, folks, I can’t write about challenging topics all the time.

Another one of my questions about Azlon did get an answer this week, with help from Jean Moon and artist William Cochran.

Would you happen to know why the name of the new sculpture in town, supposedly named for the CS Lewis lion character, is spelled incorrectly? It should, of course, be Aslan.

This has been bothering me but I’m not quite sure who to contact.  Any help would be appreciated.

Mrs. Moon put me in touch with Mr. Cochran, who responded:

Artist Anthony Howe named several of his sculptures after characters from Narnia. He said he and his wife Lynne once read the series to their son when he was younger. Azlon’s immediate predecessor was the very ambitious Lucia, which was featured on the Academy Awards telecast a few years ago. Lucia towers overhead at 24’, but it is only 2/3 the height of Azlon. The first designation for Azlon on early shop drawings was “Large Lucia.” 

When the time came to name his greatest and tallest piece to date, the work he still considers to be the purest expression of his artistic vision, he chose the name Aslan from the C.S. Lewis books about Narnia. The character Aslan is “the king above all high kings” and a powerful touchstone of wisdom and goodness in those books. 

The artist misspelled the name “Azlon” on an early document. Looking at it, he decided he preferred that version, and decided to keep “Azlon” as the permanent name of the piece. 

So, there you have it. Sometimes a mistake becomes a bit of artistic license. 

If Azlon does, at some point in the future, decide to start holding forth on Twitter, you’ll probably see it here first. 

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