WW1 Memorial

Of the season, and a milestone
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Of the season, and a milestone

My latest on Medium Online is “The End of the Beginning: Eight of Sabin Howard’s Doughboys Get Ready to Go Back to Europe.”

I wrote it to share–to celebrate–a milestone: Sabin and his stalwart team have finished principal sculpture on the first grouping of eleven figures from A Soldier’s Journey.

I’m so proud of our sculptors Sabin, Charlie, and “Raymond.” They’ve worked with focus and dedication through long hours and difficult situations.

I’m also terribly proud of our good-spirited models. They also worked hard over the last year, especially during the quarantine months. Everyone has made sacrifices and accommodations for the good of the project.

This achievement is hard-won. It’s sweet for us.

It makes it worthwhile, almost, to have to deal with the belligerence and incompetence of outside parties. They’re a necessary evil. Doesn’t make them easy to handle. I brace myself before every phone call, conference, meeting, and visit. I’m always relieved when contact concludes.

It’s true that I have a particular failing in not tolerating fools gladly. My shrink has been yelling at me for a decade about that. Regarding my lack of patience for a**holes and idiots: it’s not exactly ego syntonic, it’s just not exactly ego dystonic, either.

But back to the trolls. What’s the point of being an aggressive jerk with people who are working hard, in good faith, toward a mutual goal? It mystifies me.

We were actually threatened with a “bloody fistfight” because the global pandemic posed challenges for our shipping plans. Do you believe that? HELLO: THERE’S A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

And we were threatened after we had formed a quarantine pod, lived together, and worked together, all toward this end: meeting our deadlines.

The “bloody fistfight” folks are petty and unhelpful. Then there are the incompetent folks: “Thank you for your patience while we slowly and belatedly attend to an important matter that you told us about two months ago and then again last week. That matter we assured you was well in hand a month ago.”

Grr.

And there’s the guy who actually tried to tell me what to write. I thought I managed that situation well. I explained that my diction could have been worse. I didn’t tell him to go f**k himself.

It’s frustrating. I’m frustrated. I surmise that everyone living within a 75 mile radius of Washington DC is some species of awful. People far from the Beltway incorrectly assume that one political party is awful and the other is okay, depending on their personal predilections, and which media they allow to them what to think. It’s actually far more widespread than that. The whole DC area is toxic. Political party doesn’t matter.

The sole exception is our brilliant attorney. But he’s from the heartland and he lived in Germany for a while. He hasn’t been spoiled with the DC power-lust.

And so this is difficult for me. And yet, and yet… Sabin and the team have completed the first 28% of A Soldier’s Journey, and it’s beautiful. Uplifting, gripping. My husband’s skill is amazing. I’m so proud of him and so proud to have served the process in my way.

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.

Medium Article & YouTube Video about Sabin Starting Sculpting
art | excellence | hard work | Sabin Howard | Sabin Howard sculpture | sculpting | WW1 Memorial

Medium Article & YouTube Video about Sabin Starting Sculpting

I posted an article in Medium relating our first few days in Sabin’s new studio, sculpting the National WWI Memorial, A Soldier’s Journey.

It’s been an intense month as we prepared to get to this moment, when Sabin and his team are actually sculpting.

We had a brand new studio–unfinished–to contend with. Indeed, guys were still in the studio grouting tiles when we started work the first day!

The team of sculptors is first rate and the models are terrific.

We had photographers here on Day 1 and Sabin was captured talking about sculpting. It’s a short, sweet YouTube video:

There’ll be more videos and Medium posts as Sabin’s sculpting progresses!

New London Day Article
5 star review | art | gratitude | happiness | interview | kindness | marriage | Sabin Howard | Sabin Howard sculpture | writing | WW1 Memorial

New London Day Article

Of the rainy morning, drinking my coffee: heavy cream and coconut sugar. I am thinking about the week passed.

Due to PR efforts for the National World War I Memorial that Sabin is sculpting, there’s an article about me in The New London Day. Perhaps now it’s the The Connecticut Day.

The writer, Lee Howard, no relation to my husband, wrote a wonderful article about my participation in the WWI Memorial as a model in the relief. Howard is a skilled writer and the piece is lovely–warmly written and respectful. He quoted me correctly. He portrayed me with both kindness and some playfulness.

I particularly liked that he quoted what I said about appearing in Sabin’s amazing relief:

“All told, it’s pretty cool,” she said. “Perhaps (someday) one of my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren will stand in front of the relief and look at my face and feel our connection.”

Medium Article and YouTube Video
art | gratitude | happiness | hard work | kindness | love | marriage | maturity | Sabin Howard | Sabin Howard sculpture | WW1 Memorial

Medium Article and YouTube Video

Of late I support my husband sculptor Sabin Howard on his journey. He’s embarked on a grand adventure: he’s the sculptor for the National WWI Memorial that will be set in Washington DC.

Sculptor Sabin Howard

Sometimes it feels as if my life has been taken over by Sabin’s mandate. Other times, I think I’m fulfilling an old contract…one that he and I negotiated in the Before Times, when we were deciding to come together during this life for our lessons and our love.

One of my favorite astrologers told me that I was in a progressed waning Moon cycle, and that feels about right. The light will return to me. Just not yet.

In the meantime, I’m happy to write about my talented husband. I’m proud of his work! I’m proud of him. Check out my article in Medium about Digital Technology and the Sculptor’s Art: Innovation and Imagination. It’s about what happens when the ancient art of sculpting in clay collides with the newest digital technology.

Here’s a video I did on YouTube about Sabin working on the new maquette:

Moreover, we received word that our book The Art of Life was happily ensconced in the Watson Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which delighted me, indeed. Sabin and I worked together to write this photo-essay of classical figurative sculpture through the ages, and it was independently published. Take that, Phaidon and Taschen!

Until soon, salve!

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