By Charlet Davenport, Special to the Standard
“I was 11 and living in a commune when I began working in stone,” was his reply, when I asked artist Hector Santos where his passion for stone began. Later, on his first visit to Vermont, he remembers, “When I saw all the stone in Vermont, I was hooked, it is truly amazing — a perfect place for stone.”
He has lived in Vermont now for 25 years working with stone in construction as a mason and in sculpture as an artist.
Currently, at the Prosper Road section of Sculpture Fest 2014 there are two major works by Hector. “Earth’s Crust,” his first sculptural construction, was completed in 1999.
His newest sculpture “Fitting In,” completed after many weeks of constant work this summer, is visible at all times from the road with solar lighting revealing its form at night.
“Fitting In is the name for the work. I find it frustrating when artists leave a work untitled; it seems pretentious,” Hector said. “I believe it is the perfect name since it describes levels of the work: the process of fitting the stone, the balance of working a day job as stone mason and artist and generally- just how we fit in life,where we live,what we do. I wish I could just do this all the time. I am especially interested in finding a way to be someplace in the winter where I can continue to work.”
Clearly his design talent and construction skills, are both essential.
He reminded me: “Remember the first drawing I showed you when I proposed doing Earth’s Crust done the old way with ink and paper… Well, this time I did the design for ‘Fitting In’ on the computer. It is really great to be able to make changes and explore the concept on computer.” He explains, “I often change the plan along the way several times. However, when I finally begin building I know my challenge is how to make the sculpture enduring, unique, lasting.
“Before I began this work in stone, when I was working as a waiter, I had the dream of building ‘Earth’s Crust.’” He describes a trip he took prior to building the sculpture.
“I went to to Ireland where the standing stones the dolmens and even the castles blew me away,” he said.
When he returned he went forward with the creation of Earth’s Crust with a matching grant received from the Vermont Council on the Arts. It is sited in a handicap accessible place on the north side of the house at 509 Prosper Rd. He believes that some stone artists are making work which does not last.
“I like the work sometimes, but for me it has to last. I have to complete the work myself.” He adds, “even the godfather of stone art, Andy Goldsworthy, creates work with others under his direction. His wall at Storm King was constructed by a group of stone masons. I could never do that, I work alone, I have to. When I have had assistants, it has never worked. When they finish I hurt their feelings because it doesn’t seem right — I change it…My daughter says ‘that is because you would have to have someone who could read your mind.’” Nonetheless, he adds, “I admire work by a number of good stone sculptors.”
He mentions Dan Snow who is another Vermont artist/stone mason well known in Vermont and New Hampshire.
“I really admire the work of Andrew Lowden, he’s inspiring; he is a well-known English artist and stone builder,” he said.
You can view Hector’s process for Fitting In on sculpturefest. org website and on his website wwwHectorSantos.com.