Artist Ivan Neaigus was a multi-media artist from Langley on Whidbey Island who died in July 2021. His family and friends wanted his legacy to be remembered by ensuring this prime example of his stone work would become a part of the permanent collection within the Sculpture Forest. “Sunrise / Sunset” shows the sun rising on one side and the sun setting on the other, tying the two experiences together as you walk around the sculpture to feel the passage of a day and how we relate to the sun via time and directional perspective. The central solar hole is aligned exactly on an east/west axis here. As you approach from the eastern sunrise side you see through to the sunset ahead. The path curves gently around the sculpture so you can then directly look back from the western sunset side to the sunrise that is either before or ahead of you in time.
SUNRISE / SUNSET
ABOUT THE SCULPTURE
“Sunrise / Sunset” blends abstract and representational stone sculpture techniques. From one side, a rising sun can be seen. From the other side, a setting sun. All encased within the natural permanence of stone. Ivan ground and bored the sun and its colorful halo of sky and clouds into the natural shape of this stone, inviting the viewer to experience the day from many viewpoints. He represented the interconnections of time across a day and how that passage of time is indicated by the sun’s position and our position relative to it.
The sculpture is very intentionally placed here in the Sculpture Forest. The central solar hole is lined up exactly on an east/west axis. As you approach from the eastern sunrise side you see through to the sunset ahead. The path curves gently around the sculpture so you can then look back from the western sunset side to the sunrise that is either before or ahead of you in time.
Ivan’s family and friends wanted Ivan’s work and legacy to continue on for the public to enjoy at the Sculpture Forest. They generously offered for us to choose from any work in his extensive private collection and we worked out an arrangement to take over stewardship of this art. Sunrise / Sunset was most fitting for here, both in terms of its executed quality and its clear support for our theme of art integrated with nature.
ABOUT THE SCULPTOR
Ivan Neaigus was born in 1939 in London. He grew up during World War II and survived the bombing of London during the Blitz. He remembered first meeting his father at the age of 4 when his father was home on leave from the war.
Ivan received a scholarship from St. Martin’s School of Art in London where he completed his education. His professional career began as a fashion designer in London. In 1963, he emigrated to Los Angeles, where he was joined by the rest of his family. There, he had a successful career designing menswear and fabrics within the global fashion industry. He also learned at many art institutions and a renowned sculptor to hone and expand his skills.
He soon met and married his first wife, Karen, and together shared interests in art, yoga and meditation. He was also inspired by modern jazz, existential literature and Zen philosophy. His artistic talents and style continued to evolve through the years.
In 1984, he and his second wife, Sarah Wallace, found the home they had been seeking in Langley on Whidbey Island, where they became active in the local arts community and created a studio plus private sculpture park at their 5 acre residence. Ivan provided dedicated, loving care for Sarah until she passed from Alzheimer’s disease in 2012. In time, Ivan began a relationship with long-time friend, Toni Talia Marcus, an accomplished local composer and violinist.
Ivan lived his life – as a person and an artist – with creativity and a strong sense of decency and responsibility. His sensitivity and ethics guided him throughout his life. He was a founding member of the Sculptors Cooperative Northwest, Langley Artist Cooperative, and South Whidbey Art Studio Tour, as well as member and featured artist of the Northwest Stone Sculptors Association. He participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions.
Ivan’s work unlocked the essence hidden within natural elements and forms, which is reflected in his many sculptures and paintings. He created through the media of stone, wood, metal, painting, and drawing.
Ivan died in July 2021. He will be sadly missed and lovingly remembered by his family, friends, and art supporters. Here are some quotes to give you a flavor of his approach to art and life:
“Normally, I get pieces that already have a shape; nature has given you a head start. I try to flow with that shape and put in my part. When I receive a piece of material, I am interested in what it is, however it got there. The unique thing about stone and wood is that as you start working into it, you realize the material has a history. In stone you begin to see things that are ancient.”
“Initially I look at a piece of stone and I can see it finished. The vision comes to me as a camera-type thing. I might do a rough sketch to try out a few different approaches. Then I proceed to technically achieve that vision. At the same time, the idea of a set overall vision seems too much like a wall. It’s mostly my starting point.”
“I want to make things that have a pleasing shape, a pleasing finish, a pleasing presence. I realize it isn’t possible to change the world with what I do. But, if someone likes my art, and it helps them to enrich their environment, then I’ve done what I’ve needed to do. I’ve gotten it down to a simple way of looking at it. I try to stay with the essence and the beauty of the object and the material. I’ve stopped doing art as therapy. There’s enough negativity in the world, I don’t want to add to it. I’d rather add something people will feel good about. For me, abstract form is like a breath of freedom. I’m only dealing with with me and the art, not a lot of other stuff. It’s me and the piece and the material.”
“The reason for living is reflected in the idea that at the end of your life you could say ‘I’ve done with my life what I wanted to do’. That’s the richness that motivates me. It’s saying ‘the heat is on’, this moment is precious and important and what I do with it is precious and important. There are times when you are off the track. The trick is to realize that as quickly as possible and to know how to get back ‘on track’. This might be by working or taking a walk or whatever works for you. It’s recognizing that this sweetness, this delightfulness, this wonderfulness of life is with you and you’re not into a negative outlook.”