Joseph Kiselewski, famed in the world of art as a sculptor, the winner of coveted prizes and medals, made an unannounced appearance in Sauk Centre Friday. Kiselewski met at Sinclair Lewis Museum with members of the Sinclair Lewis Foundation for an informal showing of a scale model of a life size bronze statue of Sinclair Lewis, Nobel prize winning author and native of Sauk Centre. The model will be on display at the museum for about a week.
The bronze statue of Lewis will occupy a position of eminence in a memorial building to be erected here in honor of this city's famous son. Since the announcement by t h e Foundation last March of the proposed memorial building, architect Thomas J. Osterberg, Alexandria,, has submitted designs for the structure, and fund raising activities have been placed in the hands of Pierce Thompson and Associates, Minneapolis.
This entails one initial drive which will be followed up on the state and national levels. Gifts will be sought from foundations, universities, corporations and persons in the publishing and book world. The Foundation will set up a trust fund, to be administered by First National Bank, Minneapolis, which will be self perpetuating. Donald Otto is president of the Sinclair Lewis Foundation.
Mr. Kiselewski, in discussing his model for the life size bronze statue of Lewis which he has been commissioned to do, had this to say, "We feel that Lewis should be portrayed as a young lad of about 14 or 15. He spent his boyhood days reading constantly. What happened later was the result of his early life here."
He went on to say that as he got older and left Sauk Centre and successes came to him this was a thing apart and it seemed not fitting to represent him in this light. "He belonged to the states and the world. He could belong anywhere. But this statue belongs to Sauk Centre. Had it not been for his early training and environment he probably wouldn't have succeeded."
Kiselewski added, "I've read a good deal about Lewis and studied his background. This pose and the type of figure, thin, scrawny, would be him as a boy. He is portrayed with a book and a book placed below in a simple pose. He is meditating, looking into the future."
"The statue will be about six feet high in bronze and will make him look normal in size because a bronze statue always gives a smaller effect in a large room. It will look the right height. The base will be granite and the scale is two inches to a foot."
Working procedure is to enlarge the model to about two more sizes before going to the full size. This is the first design and the sculptor is desirous of having it look well from every angle. The attire is that of the period when boys wore this particular type of trousers. It is also essential to get the right gesture to make it more accurate. This is the original sculpture sketch.
The life size statue will be done in clay with armature to hold it, followed closely by the last enlargement which is next to life. This will be presented for approval of the Sinclair Lewis Foundation before casting into plaster and finally bronze cast. The base will be given careful study with the building and surroundings in mind. Kiselewski estimates he will be about a year finishing it.
In another Lewis work Kiselewski has done a portrait head exhibited at the National Academy of Design, New York, where it was awarded the Watrus Gold medal and $300.00 and in another exhibition won another medal. The portrait head, a composite of many photographs of Lewis at the age of from 55 to 60, was accepted as a close likeness of the author by many who knew him, including Mrs. Michael Lewis. Dorothy Thompson, late wife of Lewis, saw it before it was finished, contributed ideas, and admired it. The head is cast in bronze and is for sale. Plans of the Foundation date back to July of 1960 when it was announced that an undisclosed amount necessary for the construction pf a memorial would be solicited.
Intentions were to portray Lewis as a teenage youth in Sauk Centre around the turn of the century. Kiselewski gathered information, photographs and other items from which to work. James Lewis, 16 year old grand nephew of the author was to serve as a model for the project.
Kiselewski has spent 11 years studying in major art schools and academies including the Beaux Art Institute of Design in New York, the Julian Academy in Paris and the American Academy in Rome.
Major awards include the Prix de Rome, the Beaux ar prize, the Elisabeth N. Wat rus Gold Medal. He is a member of the National Academy of Design and the National Sculpture Society of New York.
His major commissions included the Second World War memorial for the Veterans cemetery in Holland, projects on the Bronx county courthouse in New York and the federal commerce building. He has done a statue of General Pulaski for Milwaukee and a statue of John Peter Zenger for the Bronx.
Other work has been both interior and exterior work on -tile -George Rogers Clark,--memorial in Vincennes, Ind., the Bishops monument in Fargo and work on the house chamber in the capitol building in Washington, D.C.
He is well known as the designer of the good conduct medal for the war department. His latest effort is a large sculpture for a courthouse in Manhattan, New York, and in progress now a court house job in Brooklyn.
Joseph Kiselewski was born on a farm near Browerville in 1901. He is presently visiting the John Kiselewski family here and plans to visit at Long Prairie, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Browerville and Clarissa.