Art: More Than Modern

  • Share
  • Read Later

(3 of 9)

The exhibits for display within the gigantic Stone showcase have already raised the cry of scandal from art critics who object to showing American primitives and North American Indian art plus younger U.S. painters to art-sophisticated Europeans. But U.S. fair officials are hoping that a mixture of candor, humor, friendliness and a generous display of such technological gadgetry as closed-circuit TV, a quizmaster IBM machine, and fashion shows, will win friends for the U.S. To do this the U.S. will have to work out some way to stay within the already strained overall budgetless than a fourth of the estimated $50-$60 million the Soviets are spending to impress the world at the fair. Where architecture is concerned. Stone's pavilion has given the U.S. a commanding lead over the Soviet's frosted-glass monolithic rectangle, which Belgians are already referring to as "The Refrigerator."

Birdhouse for Bluebirds. The man who created this U.S. showcase was born and reared in the Arkansas university town of Fayetteville (pop. 18,069). First member of the Stone family to go to Arkansas was Ed Stone's grandfather, taciturn Stephen K. Stone, who managed to amass such a fortune in real estate and merchandise that he was known as "the Richest Man in Washington County." His sons, including Ed's father, Benjamin Hicks Stone, were raised in Southern comfort, so well off none of them troubled to work very hard.

It was Ed's mother, an English teacher at the University of Arkansas, who was the dominant artistic force in his family. She encouraged Ed in his talent for drawing, gave him an upstairs bedroom for his carpenter shop. There, as a boy of 14, Stone designed the structure that won his first architectural contest-a birdhouse for a contest sponsored by the local lumberyard. Budding Architect Stone's entry and first-prize ($2.50) winner: "A modest shelter for bluebirds, covered with sassafras branches."

Birdhouse Builder Stone was no go-getting boy. A slow, sweet talker, he loved to hang around all day at the soda fountain. After his mother's death, in 1920 he ambled onto the University of Arkansas, where he was immensely popular and immensely relaxed. "I guess all the boys were lazy," recalls a college chum, "but Ed was more than ordinary lazy." Arkansas' U.S. Senator James William Fulbright, then a lowerclassman and later president of the university, gives Ed full marks as a storyteller and cartoonist. Beyond that, Stone seemed content to remain a lady's man (despite his baggy-kneed appearance) and to join the boys in downing mountain dew. Finally the spinster head of the art department took alarm, wrote to Ed's brother Hicks, an architect in Boston and 14 years Ed's senior: "This boy has divine talent. If you don't take him away from here and put him in school, it's a crime, and you're a wicked man!"

In Boston, Ed Stone opened his Arkansas eyes wide. "Buildings like the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church, well, they made quite a dent in a kid from the Ozarks," he says. There were bigger dents on a trip to Manhattan and Washington, D.C. on the way home. Hicks led

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9