The Flair

This is a photograph of “The Flair” a bronze by Richard MacDonald.  Richard is a most gifted and successful artist.  The scope of his works can be viewed at (http://www.richardmacdonald.com/) .  I am the proud owner of one of the original castings of "The Flair."  I had a small role in the creative process and the following is a summary of my recollection of our interaction.

THE STORY

Around 1982 when I was coaching the gym team at Georgia Tech, I got a call from Richard MacDonald. He said he was an illustrator/painter commissioned to do a painting for Pauley Pavilion at UCLA for the upcoming Olympic Games Gymnastics Competition. Richard MacDonald then had a studio near Georgia Tech in Atlanta (Now he is in Monterey). Someone on the Olympic or Host Committee recommended me as a consultant for the work since Richard indicated he knew little about gymnastics. After we talked, I went to his studio, we talked about the sport and I invited him to our workouts to learn more about gymnastics. From a tour of his studio, it was obvious he was already a very gifted and established artist. What amazed me about Richard was his dedication to learning about the movements, the physics, the strength and grace involved in our sport. He was like a Da Vinci in his curiosity and research. He attended several workouts. He watched our gymnasts, and I demonstrated some moves to him, especially on the horse, as I was still in some sort of condition then (Hard to believe now).  I believe he also attended some meets! He even studied the FIG rule book and the stick figure illustrations!  I was so impressed!

I gave him films and videos, which I believe he studied extensively. I'm sure he also studied out of my realm of influence since the eventual subject was the Flair, ala Kurt Thomas & I know none of my gymnasts nor I did the flair with any respectability. He began with charcoal sketches of the flair and eventually the painting emerged.  I am fortunate have several charcoal sketches of his early concept of the eventual finished product.  He also did a clay model and ultimately a bronze casting.   I went to his studio several times to critique this phase of his work. (I am not responsible for the technical errors, as I was in awe of artistry and attention to detail and did not offer much criticism).  The bronze casting was done in a limited edition.

I have one of the few (thanks to Carol). We were poor at the time and the purchase was quite a sacrifice. Carol has a great talent for figuring out what I really want out of life, and then she makes it happen! Note the original was on the 5 Olympic Rings. Later, he was not allowed to use the Olympic Rings by the International Olympic Committee, and he used only one ring to mount the "flair" statue in the '90's editions.

I saw Richard once or twice after he moved to Monterey. Once during an exhibit of some of his works at an Atlanta gallery, and then I was invited to the final stop at a local "exclusive" art gallery reception for the final stop of the "Flair Across America " tour of his 22 foot high sculpture before it was placed at the front entrance to the Georgia Dome where the 1996 Olympic Gymnastics competition was held. It still is there today to greet all the events of the Georgia Dome including NFL football games and the upcoming final four in basketball.  At the studio celebration Richard indicated my statue had appreciated considerably.  Carol paid him $100 a week (all she made at a part time job then) for a total of $1,500. I do not know what it is worth now, but I imagine it has appreciated, but not as much as my love for Carol.

If I were a wealthy guy that had a terminal illness, I would dedicate the statue to FSU along with all of my original sketches by Richard MacDonald to the FSU Gymnastics Memorial and we would not have to raise any funds. However, I plan to live a few more years, and my heirs may have to hock the beautiful bronze. Of course that would leave out an equally talented artist, Ed Jonas who I am proud to have briefly coached, and whose work is so outstanding as to be on a par with R.M. I will never forget when Ed came up to Atlanta a few years ago to do a lecture to the Portrait Painters group. He asked If I would be a model, which (always yearning for recognition) I gleefully accepted.  He lectured to the group for more than an hour on techniques for portrait painting without looking at me for more than a few minutes, and produced a preliminary painting of me that is a great likeness (whether your consider this good or bad is your decision) that I treasure to this day.

 

Bill Beavers