Rick Rothrock, FringeArts and the SS United States

Rick Rothrock: Carved In Stone

Produced by Karen Smyles

Rick Rothrock was born into a two-generation family of manufacturing silversmiths, which indelibly marked him with the knowledge of tools, craft, material, and technology. Stone has been the primary material featured in his work for decades. His work contrasts the natural surface and structure of stone with its internal traces of morphology, genesis, and hidden beauty. The abstraction reveals the physical and visual phenomena that exist in nature rather than represent fauna and flora. The fact that frozen fluid motion appears as wind in a sail or that light can be captured in crystals of matter that appear to be opaque, reveals something fundamental about the invisible forces of nature that effect us all. Many of the artworks are monolithic yet have compositions relying on multiple relationships of material, form, light, color, texture, balance and movement. With its vocabulary of geometry and composition, his artwork is intended to be a poetic description of the physical realm of nature and our connection to it.

Rothrock is a resident of the Village of Arden in Delaware, but his public art installations are on display throughout the Delaware Valley and the country. His work is represented in the collections of museums, several corporations and numerous private collections.

Friday Arts had the opportunity to visit and talk with Rick in his home studio, surrounded by the things he loves in nature. We also followed him to three Delaware sights to experience three very different public installations that are encouraging relationships between people, sculpture, and the natural physical world.


Produced by Monica Rogozinski

The Fringe Festival, presented by FringeArts, is a 17-day, city-wide celebration of innovation and creativity in contemporary performance. Each September, the Festival explodes into every nook and cranny in neighborhoods across Philadelphia with more than 1,000 artistically daring performances, including national and international performances curated by FringeArts, and works that are produced by independent artists and promoted by FringeArts. The party continues late night, every night, with music, food and drink at FringeArts’ center on the Delaware River waterfront.

In 2013, FringeArts moved into its first permanent home—renovating an historic pumping station for the city’s fire trucks into a state-of-the-art performance center. It features an adaptable theater space; a multipurpose studio space; La Peg, a brasserie and beer garden that also serves up live performances; and the organization’s headquarters. The center is a vibrant gathering place where performers and audiences can advance the global dialogue about art, and where one can always expect the unexpected.

Art and the SS United States

Produced by Michael O’Reilly

When her father died, Susan Gibbs remembered looking through the years of magazines saved in his garage. Seeing her grandfather on the cover of TIME magazine with a picture of the SS United States naturally made her wonder why. It turns out her grandfather was William Francis Gibbs, the visionary nautical designer who ushered the SS United States into existence, at a time when shipbuilding was like spaceship building. While she is now head of the SS United States Conservancy (the organization credited with keeping the ship from ending up on the scrap heap), growing up, her father never talked about his father’s connection to the ship. Luisa Meshekoff has much the same story. Her father was an artist who worked with the top design firms in New York City but she never knew that he had designed artwork for the vaunted ocean liner until he was contacted by the Conservancy about murals he had painted. He was never able to come aboard, but was honored for his contribution before he passed away. Luisa, an accomplished dancer, strives to continue to honor him by conducting what is almost a musical and terpsichorean seance: dancing tango to a live quartet in a decaying ballroom on the SS United States. A ship which has not seen that kind of dancing nor heard that kind of music in almost 50 years. On that very dance floor, a former passenger, Caroline Savage, tells us, her sister danced with a movie star’s son. Caroline brings to this segment archival footage from 1959 that her father shot, that is composited onto present day views of the ship in the exact same locations. During the writing of A MAN AND HIS SHIP, author Steven Ujifusa expressed surprise at how many people started coming forward when they found out he was writing about the ship that still holds the world record for the fastest Atlantic crossing. People cared about this ship, he says, in a spirit that is not often generated by inanimate objects. After 20 years on the Philadelphia waterfront, Crystal Cruises has come forward to study whether she might be pressed into service to sail once more for an entirely new generation of passenger. If that happens, the “seance” we captured could well be considered a christening.

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