Beautiful public art: Aristides Demetrios fountain at the entrance to Gloucester Sawyer Free Library

The Sea Harvest fountain, Aristides Demetrios’ swirling bronze sculpture, makes the entrance to Sawyer Free memorable. Twelve fish are swimming in circles. Small mackerel are at the very top with larger mostly bottom feeding species such as cod and haddock swimming underneath. Can you name all the fish?

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Photo: Aristides Demetrios 4′  high 1977 bronze Sea Harvest fountain in the foreground / City Hall in the background. Note a few City Hall details: tower clock (donated by Sawyer);  schooner weather vane; and the historic Civil War memorial on the grounds of City Hall.

Aristides Burton Demetrios was born in 1932 in Lincoln, MA, where his parents lived for one year. He and his brother were raised in Gloucester. He has resided and worked in California since 1959. It’s hard not to read into this sculpture a bit of biography near and dear to Gloucester.  ‘The apple has not fallen far from the tree’ as the saying goes. His parents were part of a Gloucester arts community that included nationally recognized artists such as Paul Manship, Walker Hancock, and Leon Kroll. His father, George Demetrios (1896-1974), was an acclaimed sculptor and teacher at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School as well as on Cape Ann. His mother, Virginia Lee Burton, was a renowned artist, writer, and founder of Folly Cove Designers. She is considered one of the best author-illustrators of children’s books of all time, including Mike Mulligan and the Steam ShovelKaty and the Big Snow, and the Caldecott winning Little Place. Art permeated every facet of their family and community. One might be forgiven for seeing traces of this legacy of influence. Aristides took classes from his father; both father and son worked primarily as sculptors. It’s fascinating to compare repeated compositions in his mother’s work with Aristide Demetrios’ art, their confident line, sense of movement, discovery and joy.

A few other examples by Aristides Demetrios:

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Aristides Demetrios’ 1964 welded bronze and copper White Memorial Fountain (nicknamed ‘the Claw’) for Stanford University earned a #9 spot on this TOP 20 MOST POPULAR FOUNTAINS ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES list. “Demetrios is a celebrated sculptor who can transform any boring fountain into an art piece. Like the students at Stanford, he does not settle for anything less than mediocre. Before the rivalry game against UC-Berkeley, Stanford holds a mock-somber “burial” of UC’s mascot Oski the Bear. At the end, an effigy of the bear is impaled on top of the sculpture.” #1 on that particular list was Occidental with sculpture: Water Forms II by artist, George Baker, “…a campus landmark. It was actually featured prominently in the 1984 film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.”

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Aristides Demetrios, Forms Sung in a Kelp Forest, 12.5 feet high welded bronze fountain, Monterey Bay Aquarium

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Aristides Demetrios Proteus, 1965, 32 -foot wide bronze and copper fountain for Sacramento Court House

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Aristides Demetrios, Acrobats, 14 bronze sculptures, each 7 feet high, Pacific Commons, Fremont, CA
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Aristides Demetrios Swimmers

Find more at his website.

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