Slabs of the Sunburnt West

Slabs of Sunburnt WestI missed the Richard Hunt sculpture exhibit reception at the Chicago Cultural Center last week, but I was intent on seeing it anyhow, so I saw it last night when I had a half hour to kill downtown. And, serendipitously, the sculptor, Mr. Hunt, was there and I had an opportunity to talk with him. I mentioned to him that one of my favorite pieces of his was “Slabs of the Sunburnt West,” adjacent to the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The title of this sculpture is from a Carl Sandburg poem where the poet writes: “stand up, sandstone slabs of red, tell the overland passengers who burnt you.”
Mr. Hunt and I had a nice conversation. I told him how much I enjoyed the iconic Chicago movie “Goldstein” (1964) where his sculpture was featured. We were amazed that fifty years had passed since the film was released, and we both smiled gratefully that we still are around to talk about it. We chatted about his presentation last year at the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame ceremony where his longtime friend Leon Forrest had been inducted. Finally, we both found it a point of interest that in Chicago major libraries seemed to be named after politicians rather than poets.