Cast in stone


Growing up in Kenwood, young Walter Arnold roamed the University of Chicago campus to admire the gargoyles. Now, when Hyde Park visitors stroll by the Laboratory Schools' Kovler gymnasium or the Medici's facade—note the coffee-drinking and pizza-eating figures—they can see Arnold's stone-carved grotesques. As part of the annual Festival of the Arts—a ten-day, student-run event that transforms the campus into an art gallery and performance space—Arnold gave a talk in Bartlett on gargoyles, followed by a three-hour stone-carving demonstration on the main quads.

Arnold started sculpting in stone at age 12. At 20 he apprenticed in Italy, and upon his return to the States he worked for five years on the Washington (DC) National Cathedral before returning to Chicago to start a private studio and gallery in 1985. Spending part of each year in Italy and part at his Fox River Valley (Illinois) studio, Arnold often shares his craft with the U of C community: in 1993, for example, he demonstrated Egyptian carving techniques for almost 600 people during June's Oriental Institute/Smart Museum Family Day.

Festival of the Arts 2008 runs through Sunday.


Photos: Top: Walter Arnold whittles a grotesque in a stone-carving demonstration; his wife and business manager, Fely (bottom, in beige blazer), leads onlookers through a photographic tour of Arnold's work.

May 16, 2008