Now based in Grand Marais, MN, former Thunder Bay resident John Books has had a diverse and lengthy career in the arts. Given his lengthy acting and theatre production background, building and working with wood has come naturally to Books.
Purchased by the gallery in 2010, the sculpture Thank God it’s Friday, Crusoe Exclaimed! (2004) was created over the course of six years. The work features an array of materials and objects gleaned from the north shore of Lake Superior, with some objects found and given to the artist over a twenty-year period. Reflecting on the process, Books writes, the work grew “with bits being added or removed as time went on.” and that parts were added “from Thunder Bay, and Minneapolis and a small bronze which I poured at UC Northridge in Los Angeles.” The sculpture also features a set of wheels that were rescued from the historic Port Arthur Iron Works foundry.
The result is figural sculpture standing approximately eight feet tall and holding a weathered parasol. Perched on the shoulder of the figure is a driftwood bird with a small bronze figure at the base, all standing atop two metal and wooden wheels. While the work evokes the Daniel Defoe’s 18th century novel Robinson Crusoe, for Books the work is “so very personal and a comment on agriculture, survival with what is on hand and the transmission of culture.”
Originally published in The Walleye – JUL 2017
By Nadia Kurd, Curator, Thunder Bay Art Gallery