Sculpture Superhero: Hugh Corduroy Bryant

We’re back for round 2 of FSP Alumni Legacies and this time we’re highlighting recent Park Manager:

Hugh “Corduroy” Bryant

Bryant_7.30.2015_000Over the years Franconia has had several Park Managers including Bobby and Dane who we recently interviewed in The Boys are Back in Town. More recently we had Hugh Condrey Bryant who came to us as an intern in 2013 after graduating from University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

You may have caught a glimpse of Hugh zooming through the park on the Cushman, atop the tractor, or dangling from the crane. Our Park Managers wear many hats throughout the day and work tirelessly to make Franconia the world renowned sculpture park that it is.

After 2 years at the park, we bid farewell to beloved Hugh and sent warm wishes with him as he headed off to pursue his graduate degree. We recently checked in with him to discuss his experience at Franconia and what this new chapter has brought so far. Here’s what he had to say:

Why did you become Park Manager? What did that position offer you?

At the time, I had finished up my internship in 2013 and was excited to head back to North Carolina to see my friends and family. After a week of being back in NC I realized that all I wanted was to go back to Franconia. The experience there had a very profound KMS_5.30.15_072effect on me and I had started to miss the intensity and level of activity. About a month and a half later, John Hock called me and asked if I’d like to come back and work for the park. Dane Rudisill Winkler had just left for grad school and John needed someone to fill the position. A week later I was setting up for Kids Make Sculpture, like I never left.
I became Park Manager because Franconia was something bigger than me that I wanted to play a part in. Being a manager allowed me the opportunity to give back to a place that is truly special. To help other artists achieve a goal. In the process of all of that you learn a lot about yourself and where you fit in as an artist. At least for me that’s what being a manager offered.

Who are some of the people you worked with when you were Park Manager?

 I worked with Jason Bord initially. Jason was an awesome person to work with, very funny and laid back, but still a ridiculously hard worker. Then Paul Howe came in the spring of the following year as an contracted site manager. I already knew Paul from UNC Greensboro so it was nice to have a friend fill the space that Jason had left. While Paul and I were managers together we got to work with former manager Bobby Zokaites and also Tony Zappa who took my spot when I left. It was great working with all of these guys because they all have such good work ethic. It helps keep the drive going to get the work done even if you’re totally exhausted. When you get to that state it’s nice to look over and see someone who is just as tired as you are and know that you can push through it together. It’s matter of solidarity, I really cherish that aspect of working at Franconia.
Then there’s the office people… I have nothing but wonderful things to say about all those lovely ladies. You could always count on them to help you through the logistics of the day to day organization that keeps the place running. Loretta, Mindy, Shelby, and Becca, thank you. All of you made my job so much easier.
I worked with so many artists while I was there and I have fond memories of all of them. Helping them get their work out into the park was always a challenge that I enjoyed. There were several installs I will never forget. Chris Manzione, Risa Puno, Torkwase Dyson, and Peter Lundberg were among the most intense installs. It was great working with them.
Before I left I had the privilege of working with the best group of interns in the history of the entire world!!! Kelly Cave, Monroe Isenberg, John McMenamin, and Chelsea Thew. All of them worked so well together and there was never a dull moment with that crew. If you guys are reading this, thank you for making my last Spring session one of the best times I ever had at Franconia. You are all such wonderful and talented artists and I feel it’s a privilege to call you my peers and to have you as friends. I love you dearly.
Then there’s John Hock. What can I say about John? The man has the biggest heart out of anyone I have ever worked for. He truly loves his job and cares about the artists that come to work at Franconia. I learned so much from him and I don’t think I would have been able to attend grad school with the confidence in knowing that I could find a solution to most problems and make big sculptures. As he often says,”Improvise, adapt, overcome. There’s a plan in there somewhere.” I often hear that in my head when I’m having doubts and it gets me through.

How has Franconia influenced your artistic practice?

 I was recently told about the 7 p’s. Prior proper planning prevents piss poor performance. I realized that Franconia taught me that in many ways. That was a big influence. Being prepared and having a good plan to provide a means to an end, the end being a sculpture, is important. Also it made me want to build big. I have to scale my ideas back a little now simply because these days I don’t have a forklift and a crane to aid in my artistic endeavors. But the spirit is still there, it’s just finding a way to build that will allow you to easily transport, assemble, and install. I feel like it also taught me to make sculptures that come apart into pieces. It’s easier and a lot smarter.

What’s your favorite thing about Franconia?

 As I mentioned earlier, it’s bigger than any one person who comes to work there. To be a part of it is humbling and to have
the opportunity to help out your fellow artists is so fulfilling. There’s no other place quite like it. As Bobby Zokaites would say, it’s utopia. There’s this constant activity of artists coming and going and building that’s just amazing. The energy is inspiring and infectious. It makes you want to build and OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcreate. Utopia isn’t a place though (seriously, it’s based on the Greek ou ‘not’ + topos ‘place’) it’s a path you follow for a little while and then you leave it. So artists come and go as well as the seasons. From April to November it is an artistic utopia that turns out so much amazing work and then it dies down for the winter. It’s a transient environment that can be fleeting and bittersweet. That’s kind of the beautiful thing about the place. It’s ever-changing and the only constant is that the white house is always at the end of the driveway. You only stop in as guest and stay a little while and then you’re off and on your way to something else. At the same time a part of my heart will always call Franconia home. I think that’s my favorite thing. That and Taco Tuesdays, Pizza Puh-Thursdays, watching the sunset while you ache from the hard day of work you just did, and then putting on your party dress and having a dance party. The dance parties are one of the sickest parts!

What are you currently working on? What’s next for you?

 Currently I’m attending graduate school at the University of Maryland at College Park. I’m working on a number of things, mainly a small crane that is completely manually operated, I’ll probably use it to put on my pants and take out the trash. You know, really menial tasks where a crane would put you at an absurd disadvantage and make the whole task harder and take way too long.

HughI like absurd concepts like that. It’s a work in progress that doesn’t look much like any crane that’s out there, but I hope to finish it by the beginning of next year. A lot of over complicated and time consuming fabrication is involved and I’ve dialed back the amount of time I’m spending on it so that I don’t get sick of it.

Art and especially making is supposed to be fun, so I have to step away from it for a minute. Outside of that project I’m working with a lot of wood, steel, and concrete. I’m doing a lot of experimentation with concrete at this moment. I wanna see what I can do with it and how far I can push the application of it. I’ve got some really strange ideas I want to get out of my head and I think it’s best to try and execute those ideas during a period of material exploration.

I guess for now I’m really focused on getting through the next three years of school and seeing where that lands me. Hopefully teaching and finding more residency opportunities. Who knows, maybe I’ll find myself at Franconia as a fellowship artist. Well… we’ll see what happens.

Hugh left big shoes to fill but we are confident Tony Zappa is up for the challenge. Tony jumped in to the position during the craziest time of year (the week of the iron pour) and passed the test with flying colors.

Check back next week when we hear from Tony Zappa. Until then, swing by the park and Start Seeing Sculpture!


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