Emerge Gallery and ShoutOut Saugerties will present “Let the Stone Tell the Story: An Inside Look at Opus 40 Sculptor Harvey Fite,” on exhibit at locations in Saugerties from June 3 to July 10. Many of the sculptures crafted in his studio on the grounds of Opus 40 will be exhibited for the first time in decades, and for some work, it will be the first showing.
Exhibits at Emerge Gallery and the Lamb Center will recreate the quixotic odyssey of Fite (1903-1976) from his days whittling wood to his 6.5-acre bluestone sculpture, Opus 40, touted as the Stonehenge of North America. Fite began his work in 1939 and continued for 37 years until his unexpected death in 1976, three years before the 40 he’d predicted the work would take to finish: a prediction that inspired its name.
While Fite worked on the bluestone park, he also sculpted in a variety of media in his studio, imagining that the park would serve as setting for his sculptures. In time, it became clear to him that the setting dwarfed his studio pieces and was in itself a sculpture. “Let the Stone Tell the Story” will highlight his studio sculptures made before and during the creation of Opus 40. Some of the work will be available to purchase, while others are on loan from private collections.
Emerge Gallery on Main Street will exhibit a visual timeline of Fite’s life and career that will include family photographs, documents and other archived materials. The exhibition will also feature the role his travels and other cultures played in his art and his dedication to racial justice. Fite’s plaster bust of contralto Marian Anderson — the first African American to sing with the Metropolitan Opera — will be exhibited. The Gallery will also feature smaller sculptures, carvings and functional pieces.
The work of Fite will continue two blocks away at the Lamb Center on Market Street with an assemblage of his larger sculptures. Works in wood and stone will be shown. There are power and strength, compassion and understanding, humor and pathos in these works that include wooden sculptures from the artist’s Dancer series. Fite held an affinity for dance, which remained a constant throughout his life. His multidimensional art career will be celebrated with a square-dance event to include a live band and caller.
Emerge Gallery and ShoutOut Saugerties plan a full offering of programs during the six weeks that will highlight lesser-known aspects of Fite’s singular career. A writer friend of Harvey Fite’s once asked his advice when faced with a creative block. “Let the stone tell the story,” replied Fite. This exhibition completes Harvey Fite’s story.
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