|Just seconds after the unveiling.|
But they gave me excellent access to the event, so I thought I’d post a few words and pics about the night while Lovecraft is still getting used to his new digs at the Athenaeum.
The Providence Athenaeum is, well, awesome. It was built in 1838 and famously visited by Edgar Allan Poe less than a decade later. He took a copy of his poem Ulalume from its shelves and autographed it to impress a lady friend. More than half a century later, Lovecraft skulked among those same shelves.
And now he’s there forever.
Lovecraft’s grave, two and a half miles away in Swan Point Cemetery, declares, “I am Providence,” but for decades, there was no real proof of that. In 1990, he got his first public memorial in the form of a plaque in front of the John Hay Library. Now, more than twenty years later, his physical legacy takes an elder-god-sized step forward.
Before the unveiling, I talked a bit to S.T. Joshi, the man who pretty much invented Lovecraft scholarship and who was instrumental in the Hay Library plaque. He was fresh from giving the keynote speech of the conference in the nearby First Baptist Church of America. He told me, “This is a huge part of the continued emergence of H.P. Lovecraft in his home city. He was a world figure, now he’s a Providence figure. It’s just going to keep going from here.” And in a sense it already had. In addition to the unveiling of the bust, the city had recently named the intersection of Angell and Prospect Streets, just a few blocks away, H.P. Lovecraft Square.
|S.T. Joshi, Lovecraft's second-in-command|
The Lovecraft Bust Project was started, and finished, by Bryan Moore. Moore is a sculptor whose knives are usually put in the service of the toy industry. According to him, “I was ready to do some fine art. I’d done some Lovecraft products in the past and I didn’t know of any other Lovecraft bust, so it made sense to try him.”
|Oh, Bryan knows he's done something extremely cool.|
|Jovanka tries to get Lovecraft to face my camera.|
It seems the horror community was ready for a Lovecraft bust and that the right people were behind the project.
The culmination of all that work was the unveiling ceremony. It was held in the bottom floor of the Athenaeum, in a room adjacent to a display of Lovecraft and Poe artifacts (including the aforementioned Ulalume autograph and Lovecraft’s own sketch of his signature creation Cthulhu). Because the space was small, they limited the attendance. Still, one estimate had about 160 people there.
|And this was before the audience had reached full capacity.|
|Key players, from left to right: Frank H. Woodward, Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki, Mallory O'Meara, S.T. Joshi,|
Jovanka Vuckovic, H.P. Lovecraft himself, Alison Maxwell, and Bryan Moore.
Beneath the bust, on a custom-made stand, was a bronze plaque listing other supporters, those who had given at least $500 to the Kickstarter project. The names ranged from big genre recognizables like Guillermo del Toro, Peter Straub, Frank Darabont, Mike Mignola, and Stuart Gordon all the way to fans who just wanted to have a tangible part of Lovecraft’s legacy, some of whom had flown across the continent just for the unveiling.
After a few speeches and the inauguration of the bust itself, poet Brett Rutherford introduced a performance of a selection from his play Night Gaunts, based on the life of HPL.
The rest of the night was pretty much a swirl of wine for me, but I always found myself, like everybody else that night, back at the bust, marveling at the unmistakeable long face of Lovecraft and Bryan’s own craftsmanship. As will so many Lovecraft’s fans going forward.
That’s the party Lovecraft is now crashing, with his visions of old gods and insignificant lives, of a terrifying, numbing universe…the one that so many of us love.
And now we can go to Providence, look him right in the eyes, and tell him so.
|Bryan and Lovey with Sandy Petersen, creator of the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu. |
He has his own Wikipedia page.
|Mallory O'Meara's octopus ink.|
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