I was there early and the room was empty except for rows of unoccupied chairs and a small group of people including a man in a black suit and silver and black beard: Bryan Moore. He was the bust’s sculptor and another reason why the situation was familiar to me. He had sculpted the Lovecraft bust, after funding it with a Kickstarter campaign. The Poe bust came to be along an identical trajectory, the product of crowdfunding and Moore’s own knives.
It was at the Lovecraft bust unveiling last year that I met Moore for the first time. I interviewed him for my recent book Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe, and we’d kept in touch since then. In the Abbey Room, he introduced me to a couple of his crew, including Graham Humphreys, a film poster artist from the UK who had designed the campaign poster for the Poe bust project. Moore gave me a sneak peek of the bust, lifting the black sheet—actually a tablecloth—from it. The surprise was less in the bust itself, as I had been following its creation on the socials since its inception, but more in the context. The rich bronze and that familiar mustachioed visage looked good in that extravagantly appointed room.
He also noted how fitting it was to have Poe represented at the BPL, the city’s literary center. The BPL owns a nice collection of important Poe-related documents, including the letters of Rufus Griswold, who was Poe’s colleague, literary executor, and enemy. Poe’s name has always been etched into the side of the building along with other famous American authors, but it was far past time for him to be represented among the amazing works of art inside the BPL.
After Lewis came Moore, who introduced his team before he and Izzy Lee, a local filmmaker and his partner in the campaign, whipped off the black tablecloth to reveal the world’s latest bronze Poe.
|The moment of the unveiling.|
It seemed fitting for me to contribute to the project. Because of Poe-Land, I had spent so much time with Poe’s physical legacy and those who have dedicated some part of their life to it that finally contributing to it myself made sense. It was also a vanity thing, for sure, but all art is funded by somebody and vanity always plays a part.
Now, here’s the part where I would normally encourage you to go see the bust for yourself, but Poe has been prematurely buried. The BPL intends to place the bust in its Johnson Building…which is under refurbishment until like 2016. So Poe is currently crated somewhere.
I mean, it’s their bust, so they can do what they want with it, and this kind of thing happens all the time with institutions entrusted with an embarrassing wealth of artwork. It’s just that in a city finally celebrating itself as the birthplace of Poe, it seems the better path is to find a public spot for him to hang out until his permanent niche is ready. But I'm biased.
|With artist Ted Dilucia and his Poe-head-on-a-stick.|
|With Jeffrey Combs.|
|With John Rozum.|
|The Edgar Allan Poe Bronze Bust Team; (Left to right) Jeffrey Combs, Mark Redfield, Chloe Moore, Reber Clark, |
Bryan Moore, Anthony Penta, Izzy Lee, and Graham Humphreys.