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Beaver Island Sculpture Grove
by William Cashman
Photos by Jeff J. Cashman
On Beaver Island's west side, on Allen's Lakeview Drive at south Donegal Bay, Ray Denny's Garden of Sculpture has been slowly growing into this remarkable explosion of materials, color, and, most importantly, connotation. Years ago, when this collection of his work was still laboring to achieve its current sophistication, some of his neighbors sought to repress it, citing a subrule in the Property Owners' Association's Covenant. There were even a few drive-by pillagings; when the culprits were confronted, they blamed their rash act on the debilitation caused by too much beer. Thankfully, Ray fought for a basic human right, that of artistic expression, and eventually persevered.

Ray was a long-time professor of psychology at such universities as Michigan State, but the rigid strictures of logical syntax hampered his ability to define the nuances of human possibility, which he was able to approach through his art. When he is asked to explain what he is getting at in his work, he is a little lost for words; it's almost as if he can't grasp why anyone would ask such a question. He can't reduce the metalanguage in which he works to mere words; he is using a form of communication involving contrapuntal masses and startling, yet not, ultimately, surprising, gesture. Or so it says here on the back of this picture postcard we found on the gravel road.

There is a rumor afloat that a certain pranksterish element has dedicated itself to stealthily approaching this gallery in the wee hours, to add a bit of fabric here or a curved conical metal or plastic section there, in the hope that Ray will be too busy with his next project to notice it. If this joke was played, though, I can assure the perpetrators that Ray would sense it immediately; his sense of balance is too finely honed to miss such a perturbation in the rhythms rippling harmonically out from these creations, whose intersecting crosstides establish a grid for the next plateau of meaning, the field in which he is working. Perhaps, if it did happen, if the attempt was in fact made, it would not be done as a prank after all, but from the sincere desire to ride Ray's coattails into posterity.
The Robot

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This Piece Originally Appeared on BeaverIsland.Net
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