A local painter, internationally recognized sculptor, champion tennis player, and community activist, Bob Cage is also known as the premier tobacco auctioneer.
Sculptures Around Town
The Preservationist - "Glennmary"
The Tennis Player
by Beth Robertson, The Gazette-Virginian, May 2, 1997
Jet engines might take the massive, metal bird airborne, but it would probably take just that.
Scattered across the rambling field at the corner of Cage Trail and Shanti, perhaps 30 original sculptures constantly capture the attention and imagination of fascinated passersby.
Artist R.F. Cage's idyllic hideaway - turned sculpture garden - is turning heads as local residents and tourists cruise by, sometimes bumper-to-bumper, marveling at the metal giants.
The artist appears both perplexed and pleased by the reaction.
"It is surprising to me, this response," acknowledged Cage, particularly, he notes, in a rural area where art museums are few, particulairly those featuring abstract works.
His work, he suggests, "Generally calls for creative viewing," but not all.
Within the ranging sculpture garden one finds warriors, a white horse and buggy, a planet and friends and lovers among a host of otherwise abstract pieces.
"The ones who give me an extra charge are the kids," continued Cage, who was once described as the pied piper of art during a school tour.
The artist particularly enjoyed a recent visit by a group of Mecklenburg County high school students.
"They were just so motivated, so interested in everything," recalled Cage. "Sculpture, painting. They even wanted to go into the house."
For Cage, art has long been a life-style, with the winding lane leading into his farm flanked by sculptures, both metal, wood and copper.
A narrow, log bridge arching over Shanti's private entrance, an artwork in itself, not only heralds the charming pond and cabin-dotted setting to come, but is designed to allow Cage's small herd of goats a field-to-field crossing. A sight to behold, both children and adults are delighted by this functional Cage addition.
A sculptor, painter, champion tennis player and World Champion Tobacco Auctioneer, Cage's whirlwind schedule always includes art.
"I do it because I have to do it," explained the artist. "But it is not complete unless someone responds. If my work gives others pleasure, that is an extra bonus. Nothing is worth much if you can't share it."
Cage's next sculpture and painting exhibit opens this weekend at The Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History in Danville at 975 Main Street.
His work will be on exhibit in the Jennings Gallery in Danville from May 4 to June 2 (1997). On Sunday, at 2:30 p.m., a short film for Sundance featuring dance, choreography and art, which includes Shanti, will be shown.
Preparing for the exhibit is no easy task, confessed the artist. In his case, moving sculptures often includes words like wrecker, flat-bed truck and a multitude of helping hands.
Still, it is sculpture Cage calls his easiest medium.
His goal: "To invest metal with poetry, resurrect it and give it new life," he explained.
But first he has to find the metal, which may include trips to junkyards, farms and even odd farm implement castoffs from friends.
His search for ancient trees is legendary, often the remnants of natural disaster whose massive trunks are transformed to share their beauty once again, this time as a mixture of smooth curves and sudden angles aglow in rich patina.
Obviously, the massive sculptures take many hands. Cage and his son Fielding combined efforts on several of his earlier works, woodland copper sculptures beautifully aged now by the passing years.
And then there is Cage's cohort in creation, Malcolm Ragsdale.
"Malcolm is so faithful," began Cage. "He's my hands. He welds, cuts and saws."
Loading and moving to the Danville exhibit this week, Cage welcomed a second pair of helping hands, Willie White's.
The multi-ton sculpture masses also "take a lot of upkeep," according to Cage. Fighting rust and repainting are mammoth maintenance tasks.
Still, sculpture is "quicker and more spontaneous" for the artist. "You can make a quicker statement with steel."
His paintings are another story.
"I struggle with them," he confessed. "There may be three or four ghosts under one, one I didn't like and painted over. "I do a painting, think I like it, put it in my bedroom, and after a while I decide I can't stand the damn thing."
But the artist never throws a canvass away, he simply paints over it. "One, one in my life I threw away," he corrected."
At the Danville exhibit, Virginians will discover about four pieces of indoor sculpture and a half-dozen outdoor pieces and perhaps 20 paintings, described by the artist as "some abstract, some surreal and some semi-realistic."
|Located in front of Glennmary.|
|At the entrance of the Wotld of Sports.|
|Across the road from the Patrick Henry Boy's Home on 501 South at Cluster Springs.|
|The plaque at the base of the cross in the Main Street Methodist Church Prayer Garden.|
|The Main Street Methodist Church Prayer Garden viewing from North Main Street.|
|Looking west in the Main Street Methodist Church Prayer Garden.|
|The east entrance of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center Building.|
|The north side of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center Building.|
|The Plaza on Main & Broad across from the post office.|