The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 19, 2003


Is this a masked marauder or genus novus?

photo by Ellen Huber
What is that thing? Inquiring readers want the Mosquito to identify that curious bronze creature that sits on the bench at the entrance to Gleason Library watching, with seemingly intense interest, the pair of bronze ravens perched tantalizingly within leaping distance above its head. An informal poll among library patrons and Mosquito staff members produced two possible solutions to the mystery: it's either a member of the rat family (ratus humongous, judging by its size) or it's a cat wearing a mask (feles dissimulare?). Evidence points to the latter opinion, as there is a feline face visible underneath the cone-like shape which forms its proboscis, and the cone itself appears to be a separate item annexed to the creature's actual nose, rather than a natural olfactory organ. If this is the case, then why is that cat wearing that mask?

The two ravens in the installation, and the oversized acorn which is an independent piece, are realistic, or in artistic terms, "representative" in shape and detail, but there is a decided element of fancy and fantasy about the bench's occupant. Doubtless other Carlislean sculpture watchers have come up with their own explanations for the appearance of this strange specimen of art, but the point is that the varmint is generating a good deal of bafflement, discussion, amusement, and creative thought in town.

This is as it should be. As Library Trustee Brooke Cragan said, "Art is supposed to provoke, oil the rusty gears of the brain, inspire, and stimulate our emotions." Certainly there is enough mystery here to do all that. Information about artist Peter Woytuk and his work is available at the library's front desk and may provide some clues to the puzzle, but it should be noted that Woytuk has not even titled the Gleason Library sculpture; even that aspect of the installation is under discussion. In a statement about his recent work, Woytuk asserted: "My work has developed and movedto a more representational exploration of natural form. The subject matter is highly fertile ground, suggesting endless possibilities for sculptural interpretation and invention."

Endless possibilities for interpretation and invention are suggested for the sculptor's audience as well. Quizzical expressions and good-hearted giggles, not to mention fractured Latin names and the ubiquitous question, "What is that thing?" have prompted the Trustees and Friends of Gleason Library to believe that there is a story here, and that the children of Carlisle should write it for posterity. Keep an eye out for future editions of the Mosquito, which will publish a call for fictional solutions to the mystery of the beastie on the bench.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito