The International Women's Day Interview:
The sculptor Arlene Abend laughs when she tells one story about the 1998 Labor Day Storm that blew part of the roof off Delavan Center. That catastrophe literally made space for the Delavan Gallery that opened in 2003, but Abend wanted to celebrate much sooner. With her own studio wrecked, its contents in storage -- and she gave away six tons of steel to Syracuse University's sculpture program -- still the storm almost exactly coincided with the anniversary of her 25th year there. So she dropped by to cheer up Bill Delavan with champagne and two glasses, reminding him of the quarter century of good fortune together. Just as they were about to pop the cork, in walked reporter Karen Franklin and the insurance adjuster -- together.
Recreating the stage whispers they exchanged, miming the tactful sliding of a cooler out of sight, she recalled, "He looks at me, I look at him. He says, 'I don't think this is a good time to do this.' I said, 'I think we should do this later.'"
Abend, who moved here 47 years ago from New York City with her first husband and young children, was back at Delavan recently to help launch the second annual "Stone Canoe" arts journal, held there to exhibit the visual arts in the journal. Abend's contribution is a graceful oval metal piece with an open core. She has miniature welded figures in Edgewood Gallery's current group show, and you can see her work downtown at Technology Garden, on the wall at a certain Armory Square salon or gracing the salvaged steel girder of DeWitt's 9/11 memorial. The latter went up in September 2002, just before the death of Abend's mentor, SU professor/artist Roger Mack. He created SU's foundry and sculpture program and introduced her to welding. Though her first art school was New York City's Cooper Union, she met Mack while getting another degree from SU.