Memorial

Life in the studio
art | authors | gratitude | hard work | marriage | Memorial | redemption | Sabin Howard | Sabin Howard sculpture | sculpting | WW1 Memorial

Life in the studio

Since August 26, I’ve been ensconced in an office in my husband’s new studio. Sabin and his team are sculpting the National WWI Memorial.

I have a life in the studio.

I’m the project manager. I’m also Human Resources and CFO of Sabin Howard Sculpture LLC.

There are plenty of non-glamorous, essential tasks in this job for which I roll up my sleeves and apply the grease of my elbows. I’m not just talking about sweeping the floor, emptying trash, and lugging around bronze sculptures, though I’ve done that, too.

I mean things like running payroll, signing checks, tracking hours spent on each figure… Project management is a first cousin to juggling. You know, 1000 balls in the air, and they’d all better stay afloat.

Along the way, I engage in more pleasurable activities–like writing articles. Here’s my latest on Medium, entitled, “The Many Faces of Sabin Howard’s National WWI Memorial.”

Given our interest in WWI, a friend took me to the DGA to see 1917 when it came out. Great movie! Highly recommended!  I wrote a review.

I take photographs almost every day; our daughter put together a video for us. Her YouTube video shows us getting back to work after the holiday break.

And here’s a video that I put together. It’s a little rough but fun–it shows Sabin and his crew taking the memorial relief outside into daylight to see it out doors, the way visitors will see it once it’s installed in Pershing Park, Washington DC.

So I do find ways to exercise my own creativity on this journey alongside my husband.

Factual Error in The New Yorker: Is this how fake news starts?
anarchy | art | authors | autobiography | criminal behavior | dystopian | errors | hard work | healing | hope | literature | love | marriage | maturity | Memorial | politics | psychosis | Sabin Howard | Sabin Howard sculpture | vulnerability | WW1 Memorial

Factual Error in The New Yorker: Is this how fake news starts?

Factual error in the New Yorker: I write this post not just for myself, but for all women whose ideas were misattributed to a man, and who were told to leave it be and not to rock the boat.

New Yorker Factual Error

My husband Sabin Howard is making a national memorial, the National World War I Memorial.

He began with drawings. He drafted several iterations of a relief that would tell the story of the Great War.

One morning over breakfast, he was talking about the design and showing it to me.

“My goodness,” I said. “You’ve got Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey there.”

Sabin said, “Explain that?”

So I did. As a novelist, I’ve worked with Campbell’s ideas for years. For the purposes of storytelling, the beats of the hero’s journey are useful and important. I’ve been so entranced by Campbell’s work that I’ve talked about getting a PhD in it.

And so, with my explanation over coffee and scrambled eggs, began a critical and oft-repeated piece of the story around the WWI Memorial. The Hero’s Journey connection has been publicly broadcast, by Sabin and by others associated with the Memorial, including PR people.

This is my contribution to this worthy endeavor and I’m proud of it.

Sabin is an honorable man. He consistently credits me with telling him about Joseph Campbell. He says, “My wife told me about the Hero’s Journey…” in every public venue where he’s spoken–including at a meeting of the Commission on Fine Arts in Washington DC.

In the worlds of literature and academia, claiming credit for someone else’s work is called plagiarism. Sabin is well aware of that. He is extraordinarily brilliant, but I was the one who came up with the Hero’s Journey.

The idea is to give credit where credit is due. As a matter of integrity–don’t take credit for other people’s work. Sabin doesn’t. He’s honorable.

Then came a big opportunity: The New Yorker magazine decided to do a Talk of the Town piece on Sabin and his sculpture at the New York Academy of Art.

The publicist for the NYAA was happy and excited. She had done a great job! This piece would add luster to the NYAA, to Sabin, who was showing the WWI Memorial Maquette at the NYAA, and to the Memorial itself. This was a coup!

Sabin was happy. Despite the extraordinary–unparalleled–quality of his work, he has struggled for acceptance here in the New York art world.

“A prophet is not recognized in his home town,” I tell him.

The Talk of the Town piece went live online yesterday.

It contained a factual error:

“I realized, Oh, my God, this is like Joseph Campbell’s ‘the hero’s journey,’ ” Howard said. “It’s a very simple story that everybody in every single culture has experienced.”

Sabin was out when I texted him about the error. He stepped away from a meeting to contact the publicist at the NYAA and ask for the article to be corrected for factual accuracy.

Here’s where the story gets interesting.

The NYAA publicist was less than enthusiastic about the update. She forwarded the request to the writer at The New Yorker.

Then she emailed back, “Anna…consulted with the fact-checking department on the request, and they feel since the piece doesn’t go into “how” the realization was made, it should stay as is.”

This is disingenuous. Sabin was directly misquoted and asked for his words to be represented correctly. He always says, “My wife said, “This is Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey.”

The New Yorker‘s misquote creates a factual error in the piece.

Sabin and I continued to push for accuracy. Sabin felt it was an injustice that his words were manipulated and that he was misquoted.

The NYAA publicist responded with increasing unpleasantness. She even told Sabin, “The story wasn’t pitched to The New Yorker as a piece about you and Traci.”

I emailed her,

Adding the words, “My wife remarked…” certainly does not make it a story about me and Sabin. Three words could not do that in a piece of this length. It does, however, become factually correct. It gives the piece an integrity that it currently lacks. Whether or not the magazine is attempting to be vindictive, they are acting in a way that has become a sore point with the parties involved. The magazine has been informed of a misquote and has chosen, this far, not to correct the piece.

The publicist was so appalled that I would continue to stand up for myself and my ideas that she got the head of the New York Academy of Art to email Sabin to tell me to back down.

Is that how the NYAA chooses to behave: by attempting to bully women who are standing up for their contributions? By attempting to get an authority to squelch the quest for accuracy and integrity? Women applying to the New York Academy of Art: BEWARE!

Regarding The New Yorker, here are my questions:

Is this how fake news starts: with journalists twisting subjects’ words any way that pleases them, and being unwilling to correct their piece when told about the error?

If The New Yorker makes a mistake and doesn’t correct that error because of specious and disingenuous reasoning, how is this publication any different from the fake news outlets they descry?

It’s disappointing that a venue that lauds its own integrity isn’t showing its integrity.

And there’s one more wrinkle in this sordid story. That is, there’s a concern about vindictiveness. The NYAA publicist and the head of the NYAA wanted us to stand down for fear that we would alienate people who had “been on our side.”

The NYAA publicist wrote us,

No press will be inclined to write on Sabin again, because it appears that he goes and attacks press who cover him. In addition, “fake news” is very inflammatory language to use and the New Yorker takes accusations like that extremely seriously – they have to, because of their political journalism. Claiming that the New Yorker is publishing fake news will attract a lot of unpleasant attention to you.

It’s a craven concern, but a real one. In today’s world, with its emphasis on expedience, the press might just step away from a subject who insists that his words be accurately represented.

Sabin said to me, “The New York Academy of Art will never work with me again because of this.” In order to uphold his personal integrity, he himself has to make a personal sacrifice that directly affects his career.

And so…I write this blog post for myself, for all women whose ideas have been misattributed to a man and were told to leave it be and not to rock the boat, and–come to think about it–for all the wives who are the unsung heroes supporting their husband.

Sabin Howard and Traci Slatton

Sabin Howard WWI Memorial relief drawing

My friend’s grandson passed
friends | healing | kindness | life and death | love | marriage | maturity | Memorial | missing people | passings | real friends | vulnerability

My friend’s grandson passed

Today was the memorial service for a dear friend’s infant grandson.

There were photographs placed around the room in the funeral home. It was a room for congregating, with neat rows of chairs for the visitors and tissue boxes placed at strategic intervals.

Mourning is excruciating anyway, but yoked to a child’s death, it is insupportable. There are no words.

This friend of mine has been in my life for nearly 20 years. He was my advocate and counsel, and slowly, over time and mutual respect, he became a friend. Then a dear friend, someone with whom I can always share a joke. He and his wife have gone to dinners with me and Sabin; they’ve come to visit us at various summer rentals, and we’ve been to visit them.

He’s a good man. He loves his children. I can’t imagine what was harder for him, watching his daughter grieve her tiny son, or his own grief about his grandson.

It’s not my first experience with the loss of a child. My sweet nephew died 25 years ago. He simply died one day. It was years before his pediatrician figured out that he’d had a rare genetic problem.  I respect that my sister continued on after his passing. I just don’t know how she did it.

I sat in the memorial service and thought, This is the essential stuff of human life. This is it–stripped bared, down to the marrow in the bones–what life is about: loss, love, family. Togetherness. Having each other’s back when the worst happens, the unimaginable strikes. The solace of community.

It’s easy for people to get lost in a fantasy about life. It’s easy to get stuck in the quick and shallow pleasures. Especially in our culture, where there’s a cultural ideal of a beer commercial life, all frolicking in the sunshine with the hip gang. It’s a glib and seductive path.

It’s also all too easy to allow mundane problems to take over so that this moment now isn’t enjoyed and lived fully–with the juice squeezed out over your hands.

This moment now is never going to be perfect. But it can be savored–for those who are alive. I pray that I will always be alive until it’s my turn to pass.

“Remember that my son lived,” said my friend’s daughter. It came from her heart and pierced mine.

I had sent gifts but hadn’t yet met him. Still, I will remember that little guy.

 

Vice Chair Edwin Fountain of WW1 Memorial Commission Unveiling Design
art | Memorial | Sabin Howard | Sabin Howard sculpture | WW1 Memorial

Vice Chair Edwin Fountain of WW1 Memorial Commission Unveiling Design

A video showing the unveiling of the winning WW1 Memorial design.

I’m so proud of my husband Sabin Howard and his design partner architect-in-training Joe Weishaar for winning the World War 1 Memorial Design Competition.

Here is Vice Chair Edwin Fountain unveiling their winning design. Mr. Fountain spoke of the jury convening and reaching a unanimous decision on the design that they would recommend to the committee.

Mr. Fountain said, “Sabin Howard…is considered one of the country’s leading classical sculptors. His works have been shown in more than 50 shows nationally and internationally, he has worked with the late, renowned architect Michael Graves, and the New York Times said of him, quote “When viewing his works, visitors may be reminded of the time Donatello and Rodin walked the earth.” That’s the kind of phrase I’d like to get someday.”

He spoke of the elegant simplicity of the design and the simple contained space reminiscent of the current park–an enclave for both contemplation and active recreation. The park will remain a park for people who just want to have their lunch there; this space always had to serve the dual purpose of remaining a park as well as hosting the memorial.

Weishaar and Howard met the design challenges, said Fountain. “It’s done in a classical sculptural style that would have been recognizable in the era of the war, yet will also stand up over time, yet will also be recognizable 100 years from now.”

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Sculptor Sabin Howard and Architect Joe Weishaar win WW1 Memorial Commission
art | gratitude | happiness | Memorial | Sabin Howard | Sabin Howard sculpture | WW1 Memorial

Sculptor Sabin Howard and Architect Joe Weishaar win WW1 Memorial Commission

I am overjoyed to announce that my husband classical figurative sculptor Sabin Howard and his partner architect Joe Weishaar won the WW1 Memorial Commission.

There will be more on the World War 1 Memorial Commission website.

Vice Chair Edwin Fountain spoke beautifully about the team and their design and a few minutes was captured on Periscope. Watch for yourself!

I am the first to acknowledge Joe Weishaar’s unusual brilliance. His design conception has an extraordinarily graceful simplicity and elegance that bespeak his genius. However, I am Sabin Howard‘s wife, and I am incredibly proud of him. Here’s a quote from the Chicago Tribune:

Officials of the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission, which approved his team’s design on an 8-1 vote, said Weishaar’s decision to include on his team Sabin Howard, an experienced classical sculptor from New York City, was pivotal to the win. The commission voted after an independent jury of seven experts earlier this month unanimously picked the team’s design.

The story was picked up by news organizations around the country, indeed, around the globe. Articles appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters, and Curbed. The Twitterverse was alive with the news. By the way, if you’re on Twitter, Follow @SabinHoward and @WW1CC The WW1 Centennial Commission!

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Sabin Howard presenting to the WW1 Memorial Committee
art | hard work | Memorial | Sabin Howard | Sabin Howard sculpture

Sabin Howard presenting to the WW1 Memorial Committee

A Youtube video of Sabin Howard presenting to the WW1 Memorial Committee.

I’m so proud of my husband and his partner, architect Joe Weishaar, for their proposal to the WW1 Memorial Committee. Sabin and Joe put together a beautiful proposal for a memorial to the Great War in Pershing Park in Washington DC. Joe Weishaar did the wonderful design and Sabin created the sculpture, the beautiful reliefs and sculpture in the round. Their proposal is called WEIGHT OF REMEMBRANCE.

Some enterprising member of the audience streamed about 8 minutes of Sabin’s speech on Periscope. I was able to get the video from Periscope and upload it into Youtube.

Sabin said, in part, “”Ambition in balance, coupled with humbleness is an open heart. This is where energy flows. This is where we create as human beings.”

Sabin Howard WW1 Memorial