The Virginian Pilot
Sunday, June 13, 2004
Art makes memories tangible at Beach center
by Michelle Mizal-Archer
Virginia Beach - It may not be as large as the Statue of Liberty
or as intricate as Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker.
But the 5-foot-tall sculpture unveiled Saturday
afternoon in a small commemorative garden has something they
don’t: a Matchbox car, nickels and a Special Olympics
The teardrop-shaped statue with a hollowed-out
heart is made with a few hundred pounds of concrete and embedded
memorabilia that belonged to those who have or still use SkillQuest
The center, located in a small office park
near Mount Trashmore, is a nonprofit day program for adults
with mental retardation and is part of the Department of Human
“I think that’s a pretty cool
sculpture, don’t you?” Tammy M. Hunt, a mental-retardation
assistant at the center, asked Ernest “Pie” Avery.
Avery, a 55-year old Beach resident, is
one of about 150 clients that the center serves daily.
“Yeah,” Avery said. He pointed
to a green Matchbox car pressed into the scultpure. Avery
donated the car, along with the nickels that surround it.
Rebecca A. Jennings, Avery’s younger
sister and guardian, said the sculpture symbolizes everything
about her brother.
“Pie is a huge heart with a teddy
bear in the middle,” Jennings, 51, said. “He’s
full of love.”
On Saturday afternoon, the center’s
staff, clients, their families and a few local dignitaries
attended the small ceremony to unveil the statue.
Clients and staff member’s along
with the sculpture’s artists, Trisha Kyner and David
Friedheim of Oakland, Calif., removed the white sheets as
the crowd applauded and stepped forward to take a closer look.
Friedheim and Kyner included the phrase,
“It is only with the heard that one can see rightly.”
The words are inscribed in cursive in the statue and are in
reverse - indicative of the communication challenges faced
by those who use the center, Friedheim said.
Along with the memorabilia are clay tiles
that the center’s clients made. Inscribed in the concrete,
at the base of the sculpture, are the words, “This garden
and sculpture are a tribute to all the remarkable individuals
in our program and in our community.”
It took a year to design and raise money
for the project, which cost more than $10,000, said Colleen
Zalewski, the center’s program supervisor. The garden,
about as wide as 11 parking spaces, has a brick walkway leading
to the sculpture. There are plans to plant flowers and install
benches and memorial bricks.
“It’s for reflection,
pondering one’s own life and the impact of the people
you care about and for the people you’ve lost or still
have in your life,” said Marion W. Bloomsfield, 45,
and art therapist for SkillQuest.
Arthur Knauer, a retired minister, offered
a prayer shortly before the sculpture was unveiled.
Knauer, an 82-year old Virginia Beach resident,
had a daughter who used the center daily. Linda Ann Knauer
died in a car accident last year at age 50.
“We are awed as we look upon
this park and all its grandeur and beauty and the many personal
item that bring back such precious moments,” Knauer
said. “Memories that move our lives are not those carved
in stone, but memories left in the heart’s of those
who knew them best and loved them most.”
Then Knauer looked at the sculpture. “See
that? Near the top?” Knauer said to a woman next to
him. “My daughter made that.”
He pointed to Linda’s donation to
the sculpture. The blue-colored heart, tucked into the concrete,
has her name written on it in black.