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Art of Stone

Russel Strouse was a humble man. He did not call himself a great artist. Art was not his vocation. He was a quarryman and stone cutter who discovered a passion for creating things of beauty by carving and grinding different kinds of stone and fitting them together. I met Russel in 1990 and was amazed when I saw what he had created. I was not a professional publicist, but I thought the world should see his art. This was before the Internet, and he had not had a showing anywhere. One idea was to convince the folks at the Old Stone Bank in Providence that it would be good for them to sponsor a show in their iconic 1854 granite building. In the photo at right Russel is standing next to his stone recreation of the Red Sox logo, which, along with several other pieces, the bank was happy to host. Sadly, Russel died a couple of years later from a lung condition brought on by years of breathing stone dust.
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Flower Arrangement

1988. 14” x 20”. Made entirely of white marble and various semi precious stones. Every color is the natural color of the stone. It is extraordinary, in my view, that Russell used hard rock to create a vision of one of nature’s most delicate, and organic forms.
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Flying South

1988. 21” x 25”. Made from over one hundred pieces of white, blue, and brown quartz. It is almost as if Russell was attempting to defy the laws of nature. When birds take to flight, they are lighter than air. In the natural world, stone is the diametric opposite of flight.
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Two Puppies

1989. 21” x 25”. Made of limestone, marble, brown Connecticut quartz, and semi precious black stones. Here again Russell attempted the seemingly impossible: to convey vulnerability and tenderness using only rock.
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Pretty Lady

Date and size are not recorded, but the piece is likely about 20” x 30”. Another ultimate challenge. Find a way to use stone to express the softness of a young woman with delicate curls in her hair. This is not a portrait of a woman with a “heart of stone.” She is portrayed as sensitive and reflective.
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Stage Coach

1989. 20 x 7” Made entirely of stone. Even the iron tires on the wagon wheels are dark gray stone carved to fit precisely. This photo shows the coach and horses as a work in progress.
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Carousel Pony

Date and size are not recorded, but the piece is likely about 10” from head to tail. Note the intricate work in the pony’s decorated saddle. Russell did not limit himself to relief work mounted on a plaque or in a frame. He also did full 3-dimensional pieces.
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Cutty Sark

Date and size are not recorded. I remember the model as being about 25” in length. The hull is not a solid sculpture but built of individual planks.Every plank, every spar, and every deck detail is a separately carved piece of stone. The only detail not made of stone is the twine rigging.
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Russell Strouse poses with his exhibit at the Old Stone Bank in Providence.

Note the mill in the lower right of this photo. I do not have a separate photo showing that work. There are other works also that I hope to get pictures of.
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© 2017 Phil Dickinson
P.O. Box 4195, Middletown, RI 02842

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