Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Rocklins Chapter One



 Please donate to Opus 40's restoration fund - click this link for information. We need your help now. 

Chapter 1 of The Rocklins, by Harvey Fite and Tad Richards


The Reflections of Time

 Tad lived in an abandoned section of a quarry. Thousands of tons of stone had been carried away from it to build fine houses for people who liked to live in them. Tad’s quarry was a much more beautiful place to live in than all the fine houses. His walls were gigantic cliffs of gray-blue stone which reached upward to yellow and brown earth. And in the earth grew large green trees that climbed upward to the sky, and the sky was blue, and sometimes blue with white fleecy clouds. Or it could be gray, or rosy pink in the evening, and blue-black at night with dancing sparkling stars and a moon that passed overhead and then sank out of sight again.
 The floor of Tad’s dwelling was a series of irregular mounds of stone rubble which formed passageways both broad and narrow. At the end of some of those passageways were pools and lagoons of clear spring water that reflected the cliffs, and the trees, and the sky.
 Tad’s father was the quarrymaster, but he was away in Europe, fighting in a great war. His mother worked in the town, in a factory that made shoes and boots for the soldiers fighting in the war. But Tad was never lonely in his quarry. There were fox dens in the old heaps of rubble. Some birds built their nests under the stone ledges, and flew back and forth finding worms and grubs to feed to their babies. Squirrels and chipmunks fed from the acorns which dropped from the oak trees above. Rabbits nibbled at the tender grass, ferns, wildflowers and mosses that grew in between the cracks and in corners where leaf mold had turned into a rich mulch. And in the cool spring water lived small fish, polliwogs, frogs, turtles, and beautifully colored salamanders.
 “I like living here,” Tad told his animal friends one day as he worked on a stone with hammer and chisel. “I am going to be a quarryman like my father, and my grandfather, and my great-grandfather, and my great-great-grandfather, and my great-great-great-grandfather.”
 And then Tad heard a voice say, “Not enough greats.”


   He looked about, but seeing no one, asked the frog if he had spoken. The frog made no answer, but hopped into the pool and swam off, his hind legs making him move deep into the water in just a few strokes. Then he asked a rabbit if he had been the one, but the rabbit ignored him and hopped off to find a new patch of grass. A chipmunk chattered a little, but its cheeks were so full of acorns that Tad could not tell whether it was trying to talk or not.
 Tad knew it was no use trying to ask a fox, because they are always asleep in their dens during most of the day, so that they can hunt by night. He was sure the fish couldn’t have said anything, because they were all under water. That left the squirrel, but he was nowhere to be seen, and he had never talked to Tad, anyway.
 Tad looked back at the piece of stone he had been pounding on with his hammer and chisel. He was discovering that if you chipped away at the stone, you could make shapes from it.
 He had found this out altogether by accident. One day he was chipping away at a piece of stone, to make it fit into a space in a stone wall that his father had built, when he realized that the stone was starting to look like a bird.
 He wondered if he kept chipping, and he thought about what he was doing, if he could make it look even more like a bird. So he tried. He discovered that if he set it up on a bench, he could walk around it, and look at it from one side, and then the front, and then around to the other side, and finally to the back. And each time he looked at it from a  different angle, he had to chip a little here, and little there, and then move around it again, look at it some more, and then make some more chips.
 It was starting to look more and more like a bird, until he made one chip too many, and the bird’s beak flew off.
 Tad was disappointed. But not very. He was too excited by what he was discovering. He wandered around his quarry, looking at stones in his piles of rubble, until he saw one that somehow reminded him of a squirrel. 
 He put it up on his bench, and started chipping away with his hammer and chisel, just the way he had done before. And gradually, one end of it started to look more and more like the head of a squirrel, with rounded cheeks and a pointy nose and ears.
 Then he did not know what to do next. He could not figure out how the squirrel’s body should start. How did a squirrel’s shoulders fit onto its neck? But squirrels didn’t really have shoulders, did they?
 The more he looked at it, the more he liked it the way it was. The squirrel’s head looked as though it was peering out of cave, or out of a crack in the wall, just the way a real squirrel would. The cave or wall was the rest of the stone, the part he had not chipped away.


   Was that all right? Could you just leave something like that? Tad didn’t know. He had not known until just a few days ago that you could do this at all, so he certainly didn’t know if there were any rules.
 Now he had found a new piece of stone, and he was chipping at it. He looked at it closely, as if it might have been the voice. Certainly it could not have said anything. But it was starting to look like something…like a little boy.

 He went back to work on it, and by evening, when his mother came home, it was starting to look more and more like a little boy.
 “That’s beautiful, Tad,” his mother said. “You’re getting to be so good at making things out of stone. Do you know there’s a name for what you’re doing? They call it sculpture.”
 “You mean other people have made things like this?” Tad asked. “I would so much like to see some of it.”
 “I’m sure you will,” his mother said. “When the war is over and your father comes home, we’ll do lots of things together.”
 “Will that be soon?” Tad asked.
 “Yes,” said his mother. “Yes, I think now that it will be soon.”

 Tad decided not to tell his mother about the voice. It would just make her worried, and she had enough to worry about. She might start to be afraid to let him stay all day in the quarry by himself. Besides, he was no longer really sure he had heard anything at all. It must have been his imagination. “Not enough greats”? It didn’t make any sense.
 The next morning, he was back to his piece of stone again. As he worked on it, he began to notice that it wasn’t looking just like any little boy. It was starting to look more and more like himself.
 He looked at his reflection in the spring water, and sure enough, he could see the shape of the stone in his own reflection, and he could see something of himself when he looked back at the stone. He started to look back and forth as he worked, first at the stone, then at his reflection in the water, then back at the stone again.
 He began to work even harder now, and he was too absorbed in what he was doing to think about anything else—certainly not about the voice he might or might not have heard the night before.
 Until he heard it again.
 It might have been the same voice. He could not be sure. Again, he could not tell where it was coming from. But this time he heard it say. “Very good, Tad. Very good indeed.”
 He looked all around again. At the animals, though he knew they had not spoken. At the piece of stone, though he knew it could not have spoken.
 He looked down into the pool.


   The surface of the water was shimmering, as though a breeze was blowing across it, or a pebble had been tossed into it. But the air was still, and there had been no splash in the pool. In the rippling water, he saw his reflection—but not just his. Now there seemed to be many faces reflected in the water.
    He could not see any of them clearly through the ripples, but he could tell that they were all different. Different shapes, different sizes, different colors, wearing different expressions.
 Tad was surprised. But he liked them all, even though all but his own were strange to him. “I wonder if I could make all of them in stone,” he said last. “I think I could. I could make – what did my Mama call it – sculptures of all of them. But I need to keep working on my own first, and get it right.”
 “Bravo, Tad!” said the voice again. “There is hope for the world.”
 Tad looked again into the water. This time it was calmer, though there were still some ripples, and this time he saw only two reflections, his own and one other. “Run along, Prax,” said the voice. “You are too persistent. We are not ready for you yet.”
 The surface of the water smoothed, and now Tad saw only his own reflection.
 “And now, Tad,” the voice said. “Can you see me now?”
 “Where?” asked Tad.
 “I am behind you.”
 Tad turned around. A strange little man was standing there. He had a wise, wonderful face, almond colored, with a round hooked nose. He was wearing a feathered headband, and a cape of brightly colored feathers.
 “Who are you?” asked Tad.
 “I am Tec,” the little man said.
 “Tec?”
 “Yes, that is what they call me. It is short for Mayatec.”
 “Then your real name is Mayatec.”
 “Not exactly. Rocklins don’t really have names. The words associated with us are the symbols for the cultures we represent.”
 “Your words are too big,” Tad said.
 “Oh, you’ll get used to them,” Tec said. “All Rocklins use big words, because we have big ideas to talk about.”
 “But you speak English?” Tad said.
 “We don’t speak any one human language,” Tec said. “We come from all over the world. So all Rocklins speak Stonish, which is a language that never changes in time or space.”
 “I’m all mixed up,” said Tad. “What is a Rocklin? What is Stonish? I don’t know how to speak it. So how can I be talking to you? And I understand what you’re saying, too. Sort of.”


   “You are starting to learn,” Tec said. “Learning how to see Rocklins is the hardest part. Once you can see Rocklins, you very quickly learn how to talk to us.”
    “How have I learned to see you? How long have you been living in my quarry? Why did my father never see you, or my grandfather, or my great-grandfather? Was it you who said I didn’t have enough greats?”
 “No, that was Prax.”
 “Who is Prax?”
 “Prax is the Rocklin of Greek sculpture.”
 “Sculpture,” said Tad. “My Mama just taught me that word. I like it. Is that what I’m making when I chip away at rocks?”
 “We call it carving,” said Tec. And yes, that is what you were doing with your hammer and chisel. You were carving stone, and making sculpture.”
 “Carving,” said Tad. “I like that word too. Why did Prax say I didn’t have enough great-grandfathers?”
 “Because they didn’t reach all the way back to ancient Greece. Your genealogy is too short for him.”
 “Is that bad?”
 “Prax thinks it is. He thinks the only art that matters was made by the ancient Greeks.”
 “You’re confusing me again,” said Tad. “What is genealogy? What is art? What is sculpture? I still don’t know if I understand it. And what were those reflections I saw in the pool? Were they Rocklins, or genealogy, or art, or sculpture? Where did they go? And why didn’t I see your reflection in the pool?”
 “Just a minute, just a minute,” said Tec. He was laughing, a merry laugh that seemed to rumble out of the earth and float on the air. “One question at a time. Let me start at the beginning. In the first place, there is no need to tell you what art is, because no one has ever been able to answer that question in a way that would satisfy anyone else. Sculpture is a kind of art, and your little stone carvings are one kind of sculpture.”
 “What is genealogy?”
 “That just means how many great-great-grandparents you have, and what you know about them.”
“Is that important?”


      “More to some than to others. It’s good to know what your heritage is. But you don’t have to have come from one place or the other to make art.”
 “And all the Rocklins come from different places?”
 “That’s right.”
 “And a Rocklin is… you said symbols for the cultures we represent. But I don’t know what means.”
 “Very well,” said Tec. “Put your thinking cap on. A Rocklin is the spirit of stone. More than that, he is the spirit of stone carving, of finding the spirit within each stone.”
 “I thought I felt the spirit of a squirrel in that one stone,” said Tad.
 “And so you did,” said Tec. “All those reflections you saw in the water – yes, they were all Rocklins. Each represented the spirit of stone and stone carving from a different time and place.”
 “But I didn’t see you there.”
 “Quite true, Tad, but I wasn’t the only Rocklin you didn’t see. T’ang, for example. You did not see him.”
 “Who is T’ang?”
 “He is the Chinese Rocklin, a real philosopher and a gentleman, and one of those who is waiting to meet you. But you didn’t see him because he is an Asian, and his heritage and aesthetic are different from yours.” His eyes twinkled. “And before you ask, aesthetic for a sculptor simply means the kinds of spirits you see in stone, and draw out of the stone with your carving. And you did not see me because I am a pre-Columbian American.”
 “But I’m an American.”
 “You are now, my boy, but your heritage is European. You said that your great-great-great-grandfather was a quarryman. He was, but he didn’t work here. One of your later great-grandfathers came over to America on a boat, with his hands and his tools and his brain, and began the American part of your family. By that time, I and my people had already been American, and carving out the spirit of American stone, for thousands of years.”
 At this point, Tec broke into a little dance, and a chant that went something like this.


 Maya, Toltec, Aztec,
 Cultures that stand alone,
 Known to fame
 Before Europe came,
 Tec is their spirit of stone.



 Tad felt enchanted. Something he had never felt before was stirring inside him. He still did not understand all of Tec’s big words, but he was beginning to get the feeling of them.
 “Why am I seeing you now?” he asked. “Why you, if you are not my heritage? Why here in this quarry?”
 Tec smiled. “Maybe you are beginning to take root in America,” he said.
 “Can I meet other Rocklins?”
 “You can,” said Tec. “But maybe you’ve heard enough already. Rocklins can be boring talkers, especially when they get on the subject of how great their culture is. And we all use big words.”
 “But I’m starting to like it,” said Tad. “Please, can I hear more? Can I meet more Rocklins?”
 “All right,” said Tec. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
 “I promise.”
 Tec waved his arms.

 Then walk on your own
 Through the world of stone.

 Tec disappeared. He seemed to have melted right into the rock. Tad tried to follow him, but he just bumped his nose. It hurt. He wanted to cry, and not from the hurt. Tec reappeared.
 “I can’t do that,” Tad said. “No one can walk through stone. And where would I go? I can’t walk on my own. The world is too big.”
 Tec smiled. “I’ll go with you,” he said. “And once you pass through the barrier, the World of Stone is at your feet. You can go anywhere in an instant, and time ceases to matter. You can be in China talking to T’ang, or in Egypt with Tut, or in France with Louis. Or if you don’t find them at home, just go in any direction you hear an argument. Where you find two Rocklins, you’ll find an argument. It might be Prax telling Nino what’s wrong with his work, or someone catching Elgie trying to steal something or Jonesy trying to copy someone else’s work. Or else they’ll be all together, having a general free-for-all argument about aesthetics, which no one knows anything about. So…are you ready to enter the World of Stone?”
 “I think so,” said Tad. “But…”
  “Just repeat these words after me,” said Tec. “And then follow me.”

 Rocks of Ages
 Left for me,
 Let me find myself in thee.


  
 Tad said the words.
 Tec began to walk downstairs, except that there were no stairs. His body was disappearing into the stone. Tad held his breath, and followed him. This time it was no different that walking down the steps of a pool.



Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Rocklins

This is the preface to The Rocklins, by Harvey Fite and Tad Richards.



 During the early 1930s, Harvey Fite was moving away from his longtime dream of a career in the theater. But a passion still burned in him—as he wrote in his journals, “I must find a way to leave my footprint in the sands of time.”
He was moving inexorably toward sculpture. The epiphany had come to him when he was acting with a touring troupe called the Jitney Players, performing melodrama. While he was waiting backstage one night for his cue to go on, a wooden spool discarded by a seamstress rolled under his chair, and he picked it up.
 Good Texas farm boy (and jack of all trades for the theater company) that he was, he usually carried a jackknife with him, and on this night, he unclasped it and began whittling the spool.
 What he whittled that night is buried under the sands of time, as is that spool, but the impact it had on Fite, and on American art in the 20 th Century, was profound.
 But like the hero that his friend Joseph Campbell wrote about in his seminal Hero With a Thousand Faces, Fite was at first hesitant about accepting the call. He tried painting, And he wrote. He had written plays in college; he tried some short stories now,
 But soon Sculpture became his only muse, and he gave up writing, even in journals, until 1948, when he found himself drawn back to ink and paper again to create the character of a little boy who finds adventure and self-knowledge in the World of Stone, and through the spirits of the great stone-carving cultures.
 He named the boy after his young stepson—me—but Tad is really Harvey Fite himself, a young sculptor in awe of the classic traditions of stone-carving. Harvey was then nearing the end of his first decade of work on Opus 40, the great earthwork project in stone that was to consume the rest of his life.


 He looked briefly for a publisher, but he came to realize that the story was not quite developed, and he left to return to the stone in which he found his true voice, and in which he spoke so eloquently.
The Rocklins is a unique and invaluable look into Fite’s developing—and developed—philosophies of sculpture, including his love-hate relationship with the mastery of Michelangelo, his guarded optimism about the future of American art, and a vision of that footprint he hoped to leave in the sands of time, especially powerful now that carving in stone has become almost a lost art. Harvey Fite left his footprints, all right. But he left them in stone.
 I’ve done some work with plot and continuity, and a little of the adult Tad has crept into the character of young Tad, but the story is Harvey’s.

Tad Richards
Saugerties, NY
2009


Opus 40 is now in the middle of a fund drive to begin the crucially important work of restoring the hurricane-damaged portion of the sculpture.  Please donate to this campaign -- click the link here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Barbara Fairbanks comes to Opus 40



We may not know exactly what Harvey Fite's first thoughts were when he saw the abandoned quarry which was to become his life's work, but we do know Barbara Fite's first thoughts, because she told a friend, years later.

 Barbara Fairbanks Richards, recently divorced and with two toddlers, had moved from Washington, DC to New York, where her mother lived, and then up to the small village of Woodstock, because (well, this was 1943) friends had told her it was a cheap place to live. She didn't know much about its reputation as an artists' colony, but her father had been a well-known artist, and she soon met some of the local arts community, including, at a couple of parties, Harvey Fite.

 In a world of odd ducks, Harvey Fite was a particularly odd duck -- a self-taught sculptor, a Texas plainsman, part of the arts scene but separate from it, building something no one knew much about, in a wilderness of his own. He had lived on the Maverick, that center of Woodstock's creative community, but now he had separated himself from it, living some ten miles away in a time when roads were rough and flivvers were lucky to average 30 miles an hour-- if you had one. As Henry Morton Robinson wrote, "Some of the local artists cocked a supercilious eyebrow, others called him 'bluestone crazy.'" But for the beautiful young mother, with a background as a model and and actress in Rome, a debutante's life in Italy and New York, then marriage into the strait-laced formal world of the US diplomatic corps, there was an instant attraction. They crossed paths at a few parties in town, and one night he asked her to come see his place in the moonlight
.
  Whatever else that invitation may have meant, it was certainly an invitation to see his place in the moonlight. This was 1943. The amount of work that had already been done was amazing; the rubble that surrounded it, the work that was still to be done, staggering.

  As Barbara stood on the balcony of Harvey's beautiful but primitive house, still without such amenities as plumbing or electricity, the one thought that went through her mind was:

  "There'll never be room in this man's life for me."

  And I've always imagined Harvey standing next to her, saying to himself, "I'll never be able to get this beautiful, elegant woman to come and share my rough and ready life."

  And also, perhaps, less romantically: "Two little boys? Running around here? No way."

  But love, as it has a way of doing, conquered all. Barbara became not only the love of Harvey's life, but his aesthetic collaborator. They were to spend many more evenings, over the next 37 years, standing on that balcony, or sitting before the picture window, looking out on the work, as "month in and year out Harvey Fite continued to lift, cut, drag and chisel bluestone, until an enormous stage had been built against the backdrop of pines and mountains," and then as that stage became a sculptural work of unprecedented ambition and beauty.





  It was love that inspired Opus 40: love of a man and a woman, love of art, love of humanity. And we have a chance, now, to give some love back, by donating to the cause of restoring the hurricane-damaged area. Please consider a donation to our IndieGoGo campaign. You can make it here.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Harvey Fite and Opus 40, circa 1945



(This is believed to be the first article ever written about Opus 40. It's by Henry Morton Robinson, Harvey Fite's close friend and a major novelist of his time. We don't know where it originally appeared. There are a few minor errors -- Fite began his work in 1939, he taught full time at Bard -- but all in all, this is a fascinating look at Opus 40's early days.)

From an abandoned stone-pile, an American sculptor is quarrying immortality.
by
Henry Morton Robinson

Harvey Fite has a dream. Being a sculptor, his dream naturally follows the contour of stone -- preferably American bluestone. He is familiar, of course, with the classic sculptural materials -- Italian and Belgian marbles carrying imported traditions of beauty and durability. But it is bluestone, the native rock of Ulster County, that excites him most deeply, and has sustained him in the gigantic task of building, single-handed, a modern Acropolis at High Woods, New York. 

Fite combines with his passion for sculpture a desire to found an American craft colony. Two men have been his tutors: Hervey White, pioneer idealist of Woodstock, and Thomas Hart Benton, the noted American artist. From Hervey White, Fite learned the not-so-simple trick of living virtually without money. From Thomas Hart Benton, he drew the inspiration of an American Acropolis -- literally a "high citadel" in which sculpture could be exhibited on an outdoor stage worthy of its permanence and grandeur. 

The cornerstone (figuratively speaking) of Fite's Acropolis is his ability to stretch tiny sums of money a long, long way. This ability is not unique among artists. In Woodstock, as elsewhere, painters, poets and sculptors all live very close to the ground. Instances of a man subsisting on $200 a year are not uncommon. Food, shelter, and clothing are reduced to bare levels of simplicity. Corn-meal, lentils, home-grown vegetables and small game such as rabbit and squirrels, are augmented in the summertime by fishing; sometimes a few chickens are kept. Plumbing is unknown. Leaky roofs are patched with sod or tar paper; fuel is obtained by cutting down trees and sawing them into drumstove or fireplace lengths. Canvas paints and brushes make up the single greatest item of expense in a Woodstock artist's life. 

Fite's vision is as spacious as his life is simple. Always he has despised dusty indoor museums run by fussy curators; it was his ambition to build a platform on which the work of contemporary sculptors could be exhibited in the sunlight against a backdrop of rugged mountains. 

Harvey Fite had no capital but a pair of muscular hands and two eyes which never ceased to search for the ideal pediment on which to base his dream. Walking one day through a second-growth forest near the Hudson River he found an abandoned bluestone quarry, a vast man-made gash in a terrain of desolation. Actually, it was nothing more nor less than a dump, heaped high with jagged rubble. But Fite saw the horizon of round-shouIdered Catskills framing the quarry dump. “Here,” he said, I will cast my first stone." 

The asking price was high: $325 for twelve acres of rock that no one else wanted. He paid the owner $25 then and there; to earn the remaining $300 he taught sculpture at Bard College, directly across the river. With nothing short of immortaility in view, Fite began to clear his property in the spring of 1940. Before he lifted the first stone he planned exactly what he intended to do. In his own words he wanted “to create a sculptural landscape at the foot of Mount Overlook." To accomplish this he lifted with his own hands thousands of tons of bluestone rubble—not only lifted the jagged pieces, but carried them distances up to 100 yards to fit them into his scheme. Pieces too big to be lifted were either mounted on homemade wooden rollers or laboriously broken by sledge hammer. It was a titanic operation that a traveling crane might well have quailed at; Fite lost 30 pounds that first summer, but developed, incidentally, the finest pair of shoulders in Ulster County. And in the meantime he had transformed the chaos of rubble into a series of level terraces which were to be the pedestals for individual pieces of sculpture; his own, as well as the work of others.

Some of the local artists cocked a supercilious eyebrow, others called him "bluestone crazy." A few mockers seeing him stripped to the waist dubbed him Superman. But month in and year out Harvey Fite continued to lift, cut, drag and chisel bluestone, until an enormous stage had been built against the backdrop of pines and mountains. 

Then, on that stage, he placed three gigantic statues of bluestone, each a masterwork of the sculptor's art. The stone for these figures had been quarried in huge blocks by hand, using tools that Fite had picked up at local auctions. These figures each weigh upwards of a ton; the largest is 12 ft. high and weighs 6000 Ibs. They were lifted into place by a primitive but ingenious "chain-and-tackle" -- an indispensable part of Fite's equipment. The tripod of this hoisting mechanism consists of three enormous logs hewn from Fite’s own trees; the chain and blocks were salvaged from his quarry dump. When this contraption takes hold of a piece of stone it lifts! Fite swings a stone into its desired position, then rests a ladder against the face of the stone and begins to carve with chisel and mallet. A wealthy sculptor once presented Fite with a pneumatic chisel, but after giving it a fair trial Fite cast it aside as mechanical and unsatisfactory. He spends a great deal of his time restoring the blunted edges of his chisels, sharpening them in a homemade forge and by means of a foot-driven grindstone.
What was the allure of this stone that had so charmed the young American sculptor? Well, in the first place it iss really a tough rock -- the toughest of all American stone says the Petographic Survey. Marble, that classic of materials, begins to wear away under the caress of the elements after 30 years. Limestone about the same. Granite, dubbed the "rock of ages,” begins to crumble back to dust after 80 years. But bluestone, say petrologic authorities, outlives man's ability to calculate its permanence. It's natural bluish color modulates to weathered gray and silver as the years pass. The only drawback to working with this ageless stone is the fearful challenge it hurls at the sculptor. Says Fite, “The man who carves bluestone must create a design of lasting dignity, or his work will live to mock him.”
Fite's first experience in carving a statue worthy of standing against the huge spaces of mountain and sky, was somewhat disillusioning. What had seemed in the studio a heroic figure of a sunworshipper with upraised arms, became strangely miniature when silhouetted against the iron knees of Mount Overlook. Ruefully Fite admits that the sunworshipper must come down; it just doesn’t possess the necessary dimensions to stand exposed under the blue canopy of the sky. 

But with subsequent pieces Fite has been more successful. The landscape has forced him to expand his ideas of magnitude and he now composes with all outdoors in mind. 

Hardy though he is, Fite could not live outdoors through the severe New York winters. He had to have shelter, and with characteristic ingenuity set about building a structure worthy to stand on the fringe of his Acropolis. He found an old barn in a nearby field, made a deal with its owner, took the barn apart timber by timber and hauled it to the rim of his glorified quarry dump. He pulled the old nails from the barn timbers, pounded them straight and began building a combined workshop and temporary gallery for sculptural pieces he had already completed. In a two months vacation from Bard, where he teaches part-time, he flung up the skeleton of the building, roofed it tight, then turned again to his bluestone dream. 

Summer and winter the project of the bluestone Acropolis goes forward., Thus far, only a single acre has been retrieved from chaos; in his mind Fite carries blueprints for the development of the remaining eleven acres. It is really a frightening undertaking. With the plan still in its infancy, Fite has been accused of trying to emulate Pharoah and his ten thousand slaves in one lifetime. But this young sculptor, just 40, has no touch of megalomania. He is well aware that the endurance of one man may be insufficient to complete the work, and is looking for other young men to assist him in his task of exploiting bluestone's loveliness. Part time helpers from Bard College occasionally lend a hand. Fite's hope is to establish a permanent school in which young American sculptors can carve native rock under his direction. 

The terraces and pedestals of the bluestone Acropolis are open to the work of any sculptor who can create a stone worthy of a place there. And to assist those needier than himself, Fite has established out of his meager funds the Bluestone Fellowship which will be awarded for the first time this year.
Fite occasionally exchanges a day's work on nearby farms for milk, eggs or a little cash. The sale of a carving to a museum or private collector, sometimes brings in a lump sum of money which is carefully husbanded. His teaching job at Bard College pays him a small salary -- three-fourths of which he plows back into his bluestone project. 

The Fellowship is within his modest means, since it provides only tuition and lodging in a neat shack adjoining the quarry. The recipient (preference will be given to a war veteran) will have to forage for his own food. 

Harvey Fite, though not a big man, is tremendously strong -- not muscle-bound despite his bulging biceps and extensors, but graceful in his carriage and movements (he is one of the best square dancers in the country and formerly earned a little money by giving exhibitions of country dancing with an organization known as the "Cheats and Swings. ") Exposure to the elements has bronzed his skin; his flesh tones and bone structure give him some resemblance to an Indian. His hands have callouses though as an armadillo. 

Until recently a bachelor, Flte has now complicated his economic existence by taking a wife. This romantic step obliges him to work harder than ever; he is now on a hard and fast schedule of seven hours a day with mallet and chisel preparing for an exhibition of his sculpture this summer. He works the whole seven hours without stopping for food. 

Fite's Acropolis is strictly non-commercial. He will not sell a foot of his ground and no amount of money would tempt him to exhibit a piece of statuary he didn't think worthy of a spot. He has twisted stubborn beauty out of the most recalcitrant stone, only because he is more stubborn than the stone itself. And he has transformed a quarry-dump into a minor wonder of the world because he had the vision to see beauty where others saw only a heap of ugly debris.

Harvey Fite’s work will be open to public inspection for the first time this summer.