The sculpture titled Agapetime stands on the plaza at the Lower Locks complex behind the main building of Middlesex Community College. The title is a combination of Greek words meaning “love” and “honor.” Artist Dimitri Hadzi (1921 – 2006) created the bronze artwork for Paul and Niki Tsongas in the late 1980s. They commissioned him to do the work as a tribute to their parents.
Dimitri Hadzi and his sculpture Omphalos in Harvard Square were the subject of an article in the Boston Globe a few days ago—the broken sculpture must be removed and repaired. Hadzi was a great friend of poet Seamus Heaney, who died last week—the two of them were colleagues at Harvard University. When Agapetime was installed at the Lower Locks complex, the Hellenic Culture Society of Lowell sponsored an exhibition of other work by Hadzi at the Brush Gallery at Market Mills. I was asked to write an essay for the exhibit catalogue. When I went to interview Hadzi at his studio in Cambridge, I saw a couplet written by Seamus Heaney in the guest book, which I copied in my notebook:
When I have shed my skin and bone
Perhaps I’ll be a polished stone.
—Seamus Heaney ©1988, Entry in the Hadzi studio guest book
In the interview, this is what Hadzi said about contemporary sculpture and other art forms:
Hadzi offered these thoughts about the responsibility of the public artist: “I can’t always explain my work. I keep discovering things myself because a good part of what I’m doing is intuitive.
“I think the sculptor should carefully consider, without compromise, what he or she is creating for a public space, “ he said. “It shouldn’t upset people too much. It’s something they have to live with.
“You have to try to be sympathetic to the public. They are trying to understand something. … Of course, the other side of the coin is that people should make more of an effort to learn about contemporary art. After all, chamber music and poetry were very difficult for me. I have had to put a lot of time into it. Still, I do understand that contemporary art can be hard. Perhaps it is because there are so many baffling directions in sculpture right now.”
Photo by Alex Duran