Monday, March 13, 2006

Betty Branch in Sculpture Review

I admit to a love/hate relationship with "Sculpture Review" throughout my life. There is plenty of reason to love and appreciate it. All during the post-war, post-art collapse of Western visual culture, Sculpture Review refused to move past 1950 -- and God bless them for it.(nothing similar has ever existed for the traditional styles of painting). But there was also plenty of reason to be dissappointed: Sculpture Review, the house-organ for the National Sculpture Society, represented the the politically conservative wing of American culture. It was academic in the ancient Egyptian sense: i.e. a preference for decorum over decoration -- and the sculpture they showed was usually just plain dull. But every once in a while -- they struck gold -- and eventually I coudn't resist any more, and subscribed for the first time in the mid nineties. But then, as fate would have it, their old-guard retired, and their new guard declared themselves an avant garde. They started showing things that were not only dull, but also meaningless. I.e. -- they had joined hands with with the new Academia (40 years too late) - and in despair, I cancelled my subscription. It was just too painful to wait 6 months for each new issue -- only to find most of it to be a slap in the face.

But still -- they remain the only art publication in America (if not the world) that occasionally has something to offer -- and I was very excited to discover the above picture in the Autumn, 2005 edition.

The sculptor is one Betty Branch of Roanoke, Virginia -- and I know nothing more about her, except that she must either be a luddite (anti-technology) or old and childless -- since neither she nor her children have made a website for her.

One thing that S.R. has always excelled at is sculpture photography -- and they certainly did a job for the above statue, entitled "Small Goddess".

Judging from the title, I suppose the piece is palm-size -- like the Venus of Wallendorf -- which it recalls by its profound celebration of the full-size female body -- a body proper to an earth goddess -- and worthy of worship.But beyond her prehistoric sister -- this goddess is stately, composed -- i.e. civilized -- and not 'small' at all.

I wish I could see more of Betty Branch's work. If she lived in Japan, she would be called a 'cultural treasure'


Blogger Gawain said...

wow, this is really superb. it fully deserves every word of praise you heap upon it. it reminds me a great deal of two statues i really like, the full body seated Jayavarman VII in the Phnom Penh museum; and a Javanese Parvati (or was it Lakshmi?) in the Indian Museum in Calcuta. They all

March 15, 2006  
Anonymous afs said...

Betty Branch is indeed a "cultural treasure" and you don't have to be in Japan to think so. She resides among us in Roanoke, Virginia and is dearly loved and appreciated. She has a wonderful gallery/studio filled with many of her inspiring works. She has taught at Hollins University (also in Roanoke) and her work has been widely exhibited both in the U.S. and abroad.

April 19, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

Thankyou for the information, Afs.

If you can send send me some more pictures -- it would be greatly appreciated.

April 19, 2006  
Anonymous jim bier said...

I saw one of Betty Branch's nude female figures at Brookgreen Gardens, SC. - impressive. I, too am disappointed that she doesn't have an on-line presence.

for something recent check out

May 10, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For "the girl next door" she is the real deal. All I can say is WOW. If you want to see more go to

November 29, 2008  
Blogger Donna Dilley said...

You can visit her current retrospective at Hollins University Wetherill Arts Center in Roanoke, Virginia showing now through November to see many more of her wonderful works!

September 27, 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home