Treasures from the Vault: Dale Enochs’s “Double Exposure”

Elizabeth Goings, Exhibitions Content Manager

Today’s ‘treasure’ is a little different from others we’ve selected. Dale Enochs’s Double Exposure is set apart from previous treasures we’ve featured because they don’t often leave the vault. On the contrary—this sculpture is permanently installed in our atrium! It may seem as though I’m betraying the identity of this blog series, but I ask you this – how often do we become so used to seeing a work of art that we no longer take notice of its presence? My task today is to compel you to give this particular work a second look.

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Dale Enochs. America, b. 1952. Double Exposure. Limestone, steel, and bronze, 2017. Museum Purchase. Photo by Katy Thompson. 

Dale Enochs remembers wanting to be an artist at 5 years old. His love of art came from his grandmother, who made small Victorian paintings. As a result of spending a lot of his time at her house painting pictures, she passed on her artistic passion to her grandson. Enochs earned his BFA in Fine Art from Indiana University, Fort Wayne in 1977 and then completed his MFA in 1981 from Indiana University, Bloomington, where he focused on ceramics. Upon graduating he had no money to buy a kiln, much less clay, for his work. Such is the plight of many a fine art graduate! However, Enochs was thrifty and made the best of his situation. His yard backed up to an old railway, and there was an abundance of free limestone along the tracks. He built his studio there, and—taking advantage of the plentiful material—began to sculpt in limestone rather than clay. His backyard quickly became an outdoor sculpture garden.

In the mid-1980s Enochs befriended retired professor Dr. Kenneth Yasuda who introduced him to Japanese aesthetics and landscape architecture theory. Through their discussions of Japanese sculpture gardens and haikus, Yasuda taught Enochs that all materials are beautiful once you come to know and understand their intrinsic spirit. This opened Enochs’s eyes to the natural beauty of limestone, a material he initially thought of as “god-awful ugly.” Yasuda also explained how an artist must create everything by hand to understand the true spirit of a work of art. This brings us to Double Exposure.

While limestone is often dismissed as a humble, utilitarian material, Enochs celebrates its beauty in Double Exposure. He’s crafted a sculpture that allows the natural hues of limestone to take center stage, from brilliant white to soft, creamy yellow. We can see that Enochs has employed Yasuda’s teaching of creating everything by hand through the organic shape of the piece itself, the intricate patterns, detailed composition, and the less-than perfect cut of the lines themselves. This doesn’t mean that Enochs wasn’t precise in his execution, but lines chiseled and cut by hand are never as exact as ones cut by machine – Enochs has given us a tangible link to the creation of Double Exposure. We can see the journey he took in creating the piece, from the intricate linework covering the piece to the delicately rendered heart in the chest of the man.

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Dale Enochs. America, b. 1952. Double Exposure. Limestone, steel, and bronze, 2017. Museum Purchase. Photo by Katy Thompson.

Oh, did you not notice the man in the midst of all the crazy lines? Don’t beat yourself up about it, it’s not easy to see the finer details of Double Exposure at first glance – I missed him on first viewing too. It’s when we take the time to truly look at Double Exposure that we see all of its secrets. The piece itself is divided in two, cutting not only the composition in half, but also the man, with his heart holding the two sides together. On the left side of the composition Enochs has inscribed “clarity” at the top, and there is a skull at the bottom. On the right side, “confusion” has been inscribed at the top, and there appears to be a stylized caduceus, the traditional symbol for healing and medicine, at the bottom. Perhaps a commentary on life and death or good and evil? Enochs doesn’t explicitly answer this question, but that’s the whole point of his work.

Enochs believes that all art is about communication and conversation, and all the artwork he creates has the potential to speak on a variety of levels. He is drawn to the challenge of making meaningful work that speaks to both art enthusiasts and those unfamiliar with the art world, thus making his art accessible for everyone. Enochs believes that everyone has the intellectual capacity to understand artwork no matter their station in life or familiarity with fine art. His work is meant to be interpreted by everyone. With this in mind we can infer that Double Exposure’s meaning is up for interpretation, and it’s likely that it would be understood differently by everyone who takes the time to look at it. So, take a cue from Double Exposure. Give artworks, objects, or even people that have become so familiar that you no longer truly see them a second look, they may have a deeper message to reveal.

Need to visit FWMoA to take a second look? Come on Thursday, December 13th to see Double Exposure and hear Fort Wayne Art School alumni Dale Enochs and Don Lutz, former instructor Don Kruse, and current PFW Professor of Painting and Drawing John Hrehov speak about the Fort Wayne Art School and see our new exhibition, 1026 West Berry Street: The Fort Wayne Art School!

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