The Wheels of Progress

Wheels of Progress
Michigan’s windswept peninsulas are abundant with the energy to turn wheels, wheels that men and women have long used to live and progress. The windmill brings forth nourishment and manufacturing. The weather vane provides knowledge for navigation. These are but two of the many images and concepts Dewey Blocksma playfully presents in his archway Wheels of Progress Wind Machine.

“The wheel is one of the most human of geometric forms,” says Blocksma. “We are creatures dependent on cycles and circles, creatures dependent on wrist watches, calendars, snow tires, hula hoops… merry-go-rounds, saw blades and windmills.” In his archway, Blocksma addresses cycles in our culture. He uses two steel cables to bridge the twelve-foot gap between man and woman wind machines, each sitting atop twelve-foot poles. There are several whirligigs between the cables, all are positioned to favor prevailing westerly winds.

The wheels use natural and synthetic materials “suggesting the tension between the natural and fabricated worlds.” The woman figure, for example, is made of a stainless steel cone, a teak head and a gourd body with arms that turn on skate bearings. The man has a gourd head, ash arms and a wristwatch wind machine with several small blades. Other materials in the work include coconuts, strainers, light fixtures, musical instruments and fish lures. Blocksma notes that several observers have suggested the man and woman seem to be calling to one another using wind-driven gestures and horns. What thoughts come to mind as you identify the various materials and their locations? For Dewey Blocksma, “thoughts do not develop without being nourished by the real and imagined – by the ordinary and the bizarre.”

The Wheels of Progress by Dewey Blocksma

The Wheels of Progress by Dewey Blocksma

The Wheels of Progress by Dewey Blocksma

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