George Segal’s artwork lives on through friendship

George Segal’s artwork lives on through friendship

Behind each great piece of artwork are countless hours of passionate labor filled with frustration and exhaustion. As viewers, most people do not get to witness the beautiful process of an artist. However, in the case of George Segal, his artistic process can be found documented on the walls of Towson University’s Holtzman MFA Gallery.

From now until Oct. 20, photographer Donald Lokuta’s photo documentary on his time with Segal is on display for those interested in witnessing behind-the-scenes moments of the artistic process. Paired with Segal’s sketches, the photographs featured in “George Segal in Black and White” share a variety of moments from the late artist’s career.

From candids to shots of his artwork, every phase of Segal’s work hangs on display on the gallery’s walls. His curly graying hair shines in the black and white scheme while putting emphasis on his developed wrinkles through contrast. Shots of his studio revealed Segal carefully working on sculptures, ensuring every detail was accurate. A true perfectionist, Segal was meticulous in his work and aimed to make pieces that captured the essence of a living, breathing human.

His sketches were equally as impressive, using shading to form faces to capture personality in a similar manner to his statues. Keeping the black and white theme, the rough texture of the pastel and charcoal varied in intensity which allowed faces and figures to emerge from the medium. Despite the limited numbers of sketches in the exhibit, they were key to displaying Segal’s artistic versatility.

Lokuta came to Towson University to give a lecture on his photography. He began by speaking fondly of his memories with Segal. Lokuta stood in front of the dimly lit lecture hall filled with interested students and teachers; there was a notable turnout for an optional lecture. His gray hair shone in the light of the projector as he flipped through the series of pictures.

Smiling as he reminisced about the times he spent with Segal, he lit up the room with pride over each photo that appeared on the screen. He, having spoken expansively on each unique photo, personified the old cliche, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Lokuta’s job as a photographer was a labor of love, noting that he and Segal had been best friends for 16 years. Lokuta recalled as he gazed at images of Segal in his final years of life, “He never cared about selling art because he never imagined his art would ever sell.”

Lokuta observed that Segal was inspired by real life. Segal’s statues portrayed the details of a real human body and captured every curve and edge perfectly. The statue’s clothes would wrinkle and flow much like actual fabric would, putting Segal’s superior craftsmanship on display.

George Segal lived a successful life as an artist. In his lifetime, he was able to see his artwork in places as notable as the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial in Washington D.C. His passion kept him going. He never stopped making artwork all the way up until his death, despite being terribly sick. His story lives on through his body of work and his faithful close friend Donald Lokuta’s photography and storytelling. This exhibit serves as a true mark of a lifetime of friendship.