This monument shrine was commissioned by Durk Dehner to commemorate Carrington (Carr) Galen. Carr was closely involved with TOM House and remade the garden known as Pleasure Park. He planted many of its trees, including the Brugmansias (Angel’s Trumpets) found throughout the Tom of Finland Foundation’s gardens. Rowland Byass designed and made the monument during August and October of 2018.
Painting by Carrington Galen
“Between February and May of 2017 I was the Artist-in-Residence at Tom of Finland Foundation. This was the first time I experienced TOM House and its gardens. One day while talking in the garden, Durk suggested I create a memorial shrine for Carr. I returned to the Foundation in August 2018 to complete this commission. To research the shrine, I visited Carr’s husband, Joe Candeias Galen, on the ranch where he lived with Carr near Palm Springs. I saw Carr’s paintings, read the diaries he kept since childhood, and talked with Joe. I wanted to make a heroic monument, because from what I learned about him, Carr is a hero. His life included both darkness and light, and he lived it with courage and energy.
The shrine is a contemporary interpretation of a classical monument to a hero, with vibrant hues that reference the colours both in Carr’s art and in Southern California. On the base of the shrine above Carrington’s name, are the words ‘Each of us finds our own way’, taken from one of Carr’s paintings, and suggested as the motto of his shrine by Joe. The lettering was inscribed by artist John Parot, who collaborated on the shrine with me. The steps forming the base are designed to hold the stones inscribed by his friends and family at his memorial service, candles and other votive objects. Above the steps is a blue truncated pyramid, which I conceived as a temple for Carr, the deity of Pleasure Park. During the two and a half months I stayed at TOM House making the shrine, I lived in the “Sugar Shack” in the garden. I could feel the presence of Carr in the place.
Rowland working on the shine in his studio at TOM House
The figure crowning the pyramid is the work of Stuart Sandford, a former Artist-in-Residence at Tom of Finland Foundation. 3D printing technology was used to model a figure from two photographs of Carr, one of them taken in the garden. In both images he looks happy and proud of his work. This is how I wanted to show him. Behind the figure is a disc in red, orange and yellow. This was inspired by a clock motif that features in two of Carr’s paintings. It also represents a setting or rising sun.
An instance of unconscious synchronicity occurred here. After the installation of the monument, Durk told me that on the day of his passing, Carr fell into sleep as the sun was setting, in the garden he made, close to where the monument now stands.”