146' × 13' × 9'
George Rhoads, a painter, sculptor, and one of the first American origami masters, was born 1926 in Chicago. He is best known for the large audiokinetic sculptures that attract and engage people throughout the world. Balls roll and percussion devices clatter and chime in airports, hospitals, art museums, science museums, shopping centers and other public places.
Rhoads, educated at the University of Chicago and the Chicago Art Institute, was obsessed with drawing at a very early age. He got a thorough education in drawing and painting in art classes as a child and in later formal schooling.
During the 1960s Rhoads' paintings were sold through the Terry Dintenfass gallery and the ACA gallery in New York City. His initial success was in an expressionist view of the big city. He then turned to painting in the tradition of the Renaissance masters and sold many of these, including very popular trompe l'oeil paintings. He also painted a series of scenes from American history and folklore which he sold mostly in Washington DC. It was during this period that he began to make copper kinetic fountains and rolling ball sculptures. Rhoads moved to the finger lakes area in 1970, living in Dundee where he earned his living from painting, sculpture and fountains. In the 1970s and 80s commissions for sculpture increased. His first large public art commission, in 1982, was for the Port Authority bus terminal in New York City, which is still enjoyed by travelers waiting for their buses.
Besides painting, Rhoads has spent the last 30 years designing rolling ball machines and wind sculptures for public and private places. "They embody almost every basic element of machinery, combined in a bewildering variety of ways. There is a level of genius behind inventing complex mechanisms; that's what George has," says James Seawright, technological artist and director of the Visual Art program at Princeton University. In his sculptures Rhoads strives to make his mechanisms easy to understand in order to demystify technology. His machines have no use other than to engage people in their play. He sees himself as the prophet of the maturity of the industrial age, a time in which the upheaval and human suffering brought about by the industrial revolution will have subsided, and, for machines as well as people, there will be no distinction between work and play. Rhoads lives in Ithaca New York and works closely there with Bob McGuire at Rock Stream Studios. Bob fabricates the sculptures and installs them. One of the largest and most complex is in the Ithaca Sciencenter. Rhoads continues to paint, draw, invent and make sculptures. He invented the Avalanche, a toy derived from a device in his rolling ball sculptures and sold by TC Timber.
Since its establishment in 1976, Rock Stream Studios has fabricated George Rhoads' numerous ball machines, wind sculptures, fountains, and interactive science exhibits. Bob McGuire works closely with George Rhoads and a talented staff of artisans and mechanics. The pieces are custom designed and extensively tested before installation to insure that they will last (almost) forever.
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