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Even in death, Patricia Renick travels the world

By Jane Durrell · September 12th, 2007 · The Big Picture
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  Pat Renick's friends paid tribute to the sculptor by spreading her ashes around the world.
Matt Borgerding

Pat Renick's friends paid tribute to the sculptor by spreading her ashes around the world.



Late in May, outrageous hats brightened the 1200 block of Elm Street as their wearers stepped into Memorial Hall for a program honoring the memory of sculptor, teacher and notable hat-wearer Patricia Renick. At the close of the service, trays were passed around with white envelopes, each containing a small amount of Renick's ashes so those who wished to scatter her remains in appropriate spots might do so.

In the months since then, Renick's friends and students have made such tributes in the Fiji Islands, Stonehenge, the Yellowstone River, Puget Sound and a sculpture garden in Mexico. Someone took an envelope to the source of the Mississippi River, a gesture met in unplanned synergy by a New Orleans friend who emptied her envelope at the mouth of the same river.

Here's where others have taken them:

· Sculptor Chris Daniel: "To the Atlantic Ocean. There's a power there Pat would enjoy."

· Postman and sometime DJ Bob Burke: "I'm keeping the envelope in my Italian dictionary until I can get to the coast of Sicily."

· Judge Arthur Spiegel: "Spread over the city" while flying his plane.

· Arts patrons and friends Chad and Gail Wick: Distributed in Folger's Marsh, Nantucket.

· Writer Dorothy Weil: "In our tiny garden overlooking the river."

· Sculptor Paige Wideman: To a coral jetty off a small island in Fiji.

· Arts patrons and friends Lennell and Pamela Myricks shared an envelope. Pamela took hers to the Blue Hole of the Little Miami River and the Pine Forest at Glen Helen Nature Preserve, and Lennell mixed his into the concrete base for a sculpture relating to Pat.

· Sculptor Celene Hawkins: "To Alaska to be scattered in the most beautiful place I can find."

· Sculptor Jarrett Hawkins: "To Chicago, where we hope to sprinkle a few at Anish Kapoor's 'Bean,' totally Pat's kind of piece."

· Artist Joell Angel-Chumbley: "To return her ashes to nature through travels to the mountains and the ocean ... and to incorporate her ashes into my work."

· Artist Rich Fruth: Plans to release the ashes from "a great overlook in Mt. Zion, Utah. (The route there is) a bit uneasy: narrow ledges, slippery rocks, massive cliffs. ... I am afraid of heights, so the whole process will be a great experience."

· Artist Brian Joiner: "I want to do a fabulous interpretation of Pat, incorporating her ashes into my polymer resin technique ... an abstract piece (referencing her) passion for life and art."

· Artist Claire Darley: To Lake Superior. Afterwards, Darley sent two small lake stones to Renick's long-time companion, art educator Laura Chapman.

"Poetic," Chapman says of this and many other dispersals.

· Chapman has made her own deposits "in multiple locations, (with) more to go."

As it happened, I flew to London the day after the memorial service, my envelope tucked into my luggage. I knew exactly where its contents should go: Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern Museum, probably the largest indoor sculpture space. Pat could have done something wonderful there, and now I could make her a part of the place.

Vertical I-beams line the sides of Turbine Hall. In the cove formed by such a beam, I dropped some of the ashes on the floor and rubbed them in with my shoe. My son, who was with me, gestured to a little shelf-like horizontal space within the beam, and I put the rest there, again rubbing them in.

My son was exactly the right person to do this with me. We went back to his house in Nottinghill, where he pulled from a bookshelf his copy of the catalogue the Contemporary Arts Center published on Pat's "Triceracopter" piece 30 years ago.

He had kept the little book all this time, through moves across the country and across the ocean. I no longer have mine -- perhaps mine is the one on that London bookshelf?

Either way, he was the right person to be at hand when I left Pat's ashes in a sculpture hall which would have been her pleasure and delight to place herself. He, like the rest of us traveling with ashes in our pockets, understood Pat's place in the art world.



contact JANE DURRELL: letters(at)
  Pat Renick's friends paid tribute to the sculptor by spreading her ashes around the world.
Matt Borgerding

Pat Renick's friends paid tribute to the sculptor by spreading her ashes around the world.



Late in May, outrageous hats brightened the 1200 block of Elm Street as their wearers stepped into Memorial Hall for a program honoring the memory of sculptor, teacher and notable hat-wearer Patricia Renick. At the close of the service, trays were passed around with white envelopes, each containing a small amount of Renick's ashes so those who wished to scatter her remains in appropriate spots might do so.

In the months since then, Renick's friends and students have made such tributes in the Fiji Islands, Stonehenge, the Yellowstone River, Puget Sound and a sculpture garden in Mexico. Someone took an envelope to the source of the Mississippi River, a gesture met in unplanned synergy by a New Orleans friend who emptied her envelope at the mouth of the same river.

Here's where others have taken them:

· Sculptor Chris Daniel: "To the Atlantic Ocean. There's a power there Pat would enjoy."

· Postman and sometime DJ Bob Burke: "I'm keeping the envelope in my Italian dictionary until I can get to the coast of Sicily."

· Judge Arthur Spiegel: "Spread over the city" while flying his plane.

· Arts patrons and friends Chad and Gail Wick: Distributed in Folger's Marsh, Nantucket.

· Writer Dorothy Weil: "In our tiny garden overlooking the river."

· Sculptor Paige Wideman: To a coral jetty off a small island in Fiji.

· Arts patrons and friends Lennell and Pamela Myricks shared an envelope. Pamela took hers to the Blue Hole of the Little Miami River and the Pine Forest at Glen Helen Nature Preserve, and Lennell mixed his into the concrete base for a sculpture relating to Pat.

· Sculptor Celene Hawkins: "To Alaska to be scattered in the most beautiful place I can find."

· Sculptor Jarrett Hawkins: "To Chicago, where we hope to sprinkle a few at Anish Kapoor's 'Bean,' totally Pat's kind of piece."

· Artist Joell Angel-Chumbley: "To return her ashes to nature through travels to the mountains and the ocean ... and to incorporate her ashes into my work."

· Artist Rich Fruth: Plans to release the ashes from "a great overlook in Mt. Zion, Utah. (The route there is) a bit uneasy: narrow ledges, slippery rocks, massive cliffs. ... I am afraid of heights, so the whole process will be a great experience."

· Artist Brian Joiner: "I want to do a fabulous interpretation of Pat, incorporating her ashes into my polymer resin technique ... an abstract piece (referencing her) passion for life and art."

· Artist Claire Darley: To Lake Superior. Afterwards, Darley sent two small lake stones to Renick's long-time companion, art educator Laura Chapman. "Poetic," Chapman says of this and many other dispersals.

· Chapman has made her own deposits "in multiple locations, (with) more to go."

As it happened, I flew to London the day after the memorial service, my envelope tucked into my luggage. I knew exactly where its contents should go: Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern Museum, probably the largest indoor sculpture space. Pat could have done something wonderful there, and now I could make her a part of the place.

Vertical I-beams line the sides of Turbine Hall. In the cove formed by such a beam, I dropped some of the ashes on the floor and rubbed them in with my shoe. My son, who was with me, gestured to a little shelf-like horizontal space within the beam, and I put the rest there, again rubbing them in.

My son was exactly the right person to do this with me. We went back to his house in Nottinghill, where he pulled from a bookshelf his copy of the catalogue the Contemporary Arts Center published on Pat's "Triceracopter" piece 30 years ago.

He had kept the little book all this time, through moves across the country and across the ocean. I no longer have mine -- perhaps mine is the one on that London bookshelf?

Either way, he was the right person to be at hand when I left Pat's ashes in a sculpture hall which would have been her pleasure and delight to place herself. He, like the rest of us traveling with ashes in our pockets, understood Pat's place in the art world.



contact JANE DURRELL: letters(at)citybeat.com
 
 
 
 

 

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