By Tanner Kent
---- — Contributions to the 2012 and 2013 CityArt Sculpture Walks in Mankato are only tantalizing glimpses into the body of work created by Kasota sculptor David Hyduke.
Though the pieces on the sculpture walk are impressive to be sure -- 2012's swirling and curiously aquatic "Tiny Dancer" and 2013's joyful, gamboling "Jammin'" -- they only hint at the depth and breadth of Hyduke's 35-year career. From his formative years under the tutelage of renowned Gustavus Adolphus College sculptor Paul Granlund to his current mantle as a southern Minnesota sculptural expert, Hyduke has repeatedly challenged his technical and narrative methods.
"I like challenging myself and going in new directions," said Hyduke, who is displaying a retrospective of his career at the Carnegie Art Center through July 27. "I don't want to get locked in on one style."
Among the earliest of the several dozen sculptures on display is "Side by Side," a sculpture that Hyduke has never shown publicly. Though the work that the artist pegs to sometime in the late 1970s is purely abstract in its pair of upwardly revolving, stainless steel towers, it also previews the live and organic movement that marked his sculpture in following years.
From mothers lifting their children into the firmament to touch a passing bird to figures dancing as if no one is watching, Hyduke demonstrates an ability to coax sensitive and graceful insinuations of movement from the bronze that serves as his usual medium.
In "Xxxxx xxxx," Hyduke casts a featureless woman's form in a pensive, melancholy pose, chin resting on fist, spindled legs crossed above the ground. The composition is at once isolating and reverent as she sits -- or, perhaps waits -- on a barstool, its likewise spindled legs vaulting her high off the base of the sculpture. In "The Last Dance," Hyduke interprets the iconic final scene from Ingmar Bergman's 1957 fantasy masterpiece "The Seventh Seal" with a warmth and comfort that belie the macabre undertones.
More recently, however, Hyduke has begun applying his treatment of movement to more abstract forms.
"Exalted" with its arched and outstretched limbs is an example of what Hyduke said is a continuing exploration of rectilinear patterns. So, too, are "Germination," a large-scale work Hyduke assembled in the Carnegie Art Center's Rotunda Gallery just days before his exhibit opened, and "Three Medium Sections." The latter is comprised of a trio of rings, all slightly dissimilar in size and placement, that are cut like cross-sections from the middle of a cone.
"I've always been interested in geometry and I'm intrigued by the cone," said Hyduke, who graduated from Bemidji State University with degrees in psychology and philosophy. "It goes from the very large at the bottom to the infinitesimal at the top."
Along the way, the artist has become proficient in a variety of sculptural techniques. He operates his own foundry and casts all his own sculptures but he's also carved and forged his pieces. And though he works primarily in bronze, he's also worked with steel -- including "Emergence," an all-steel sculpture that earned inclusion into the Carnegie's juried show in April and May.
Furthermore, Hyduke has served as an authority on the restoration of several area sculptures -- including the million-dollar renovation to Herrman the German in New Ulm in 2003-04 and the repair of a CityArt sculpture vandalized in 2012. He also cleans and maintains the sculptures at Gustavus, including those created by his late mentor.
"It was really meeting Granlund that inspired me to sculpture," he said. "I just fell in love with the process."
More at the Carnegie
Thursday's opening at the Carnegie also includes a pair of concurrent exhibits: Steve Wilson's "Disconnected: A Sense of Virtual Reality" and a historic review of the Carnegie facility.
Wilson's work represents an arresting exploration of cell phones and their prevalence in modern society. Using street and sidewalk photographs of people talking on their phones, Wilson interprets a world of increasingly numerous definitions of reality.
"Ever since we cut the cord from our home phone we have embraced the magic of time and place with every type of reason to communicate," Wilson writes in his artist statement. "I began to think about how I could bring forth this new space, an invisible space that continues to grow in many directions."
The historic exhibit of the Carnegie documents the building's origin as a library gifted to Mankato by the billionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The exhibit includes a collection of historic documents and photographs as well as blueprints, handwritten ledgers and original artifacts from the building's days as a library.
If You Go What David Hyduke sculpture retrospective When Opens Thursday, remains on display through July 27 Where Carnegie Art Center, 120 S. Broad St. Hours 1-7 p.m. Thursdays, 1-4 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Opening reception 7-9 p.m. Saturday at the gallery