In April of 2003, I entered a writing contest for the Gaudi Barcelona Club.
I was pleased and surprised by the third place award.
Gaudi and Whitman, Fountains of My Inspiration
By Joe Weinstein
The sign read, "No Dumping." It was a hot, steamy day in Central Florida, some time in the mid 1970s. From the road I could see outcroppings of Coquina rock that had always intrigued me, so I had to stop and check them out. Lifting away debris, I discovered a most beautiful stone. It was about three feet long and half as wide and it somewhat resembled the head of an alligator. As I struggled to free it from the soil and roots that held it fast, it began to rain. From the vantagepoint of a lizard, prone, head to mother earth, I experienced a moment of Epiphany. As rainwater coursed over the roots, small lichens, and natural undulations of the rock, I was witness to a miniature waterfall that nature created before my eyes. It was as pleasing as any larger waterfall one might see anywhere around the world. For years thereafter, I admired that rocks beauty. It sat in my backyard in a place of honor next to one of my fountain creations that was made of other rocks I collected on that memorable, sultry, summers day.
Having over eighteen years of experience making fountains for a living I might have expected my first impression would be a bit different than that of the usual tourist. Actually, I had to catch my breath. I was simply blown away by what I saw. The fact that the fountain series begins with a natural stone waterfall was the most amazing aspect.
I had read beforehand that Gaudi was inspired by the beauty of Nature which, as a devout Catholic, he viewed as the work of Gods hands. I was aware that many of the items selected for Parque Guell are symbolic in nature, but I couldn't have prepared myself for their effect on me or on my lifes work. What that natural stone waterfall reminded me of was the first Epiphany I had experienced years ago: that Nature is at the base of all my creativity. I would like to quote something that Walt Whitman said in Song of Myself, a poem in Leaves of Grass. It was in answer to a childs question, "What is the Grass?" "What is the Grass?" Whitman repeated and followed with "I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt, Bearing the owners name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark and say Whose?"
Therefore, being inspired by two 19th century artists, I have started to incorporate mosaics in my fountains.
These include things that you might expect to see near a natural waterfall: Koi, frogs, dragonflies, butterflies, birds, and the like. Recently, I accepted a commission for a baptismal fountain for a Catholic Church named Our Lady of the Lakes. A mosaic of a different sort was required for this fountain, a mosaic of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus.
When I look at this mosaic fountain, which I have entitled, Our Lady of the Lakes, I realize how quickly and profoundly our lives can be changed. Especially when we are open to the forces of Epiphany and have great masters like Gaudi and Whitman to emulate!
For more information on my fountain creations, check out my web site sometime.
©Copyright 2003 Joe Weinstein All Rights Reserved
Update, June 9, 2003. Read about the ceremony held in Barcelona at which the all