It's been four years and four months ago since internationally known sculptor and former Fort Wayne resident Dale Enochs
soloed at his friend David Kraus' 1911 Gallery on South Calhoun Street. The exhibition was well received, garnered a bit
of mainstream media exposure and a couple of bites on some private commissions.
In the interim he's shown at six other exhibitions pushing his career total group and solo showings to more than 50. In
addition he spent a year as Distinguished Instructor at DePauw University and increased his appearance total at the
exclusive Bloomington sculpture symposium to nine consecutive years. Sandwiched in between these activities he squeezed a
featured appearance on cable television network HGTV's "Masters" series where his fireplace installation was spotlighted.
His oeuvre of stone and metal wall hangings, drawings, decorative garden sculptures and architectural elementals of carved
stone fountains and public constructions of both utilitarian and monumental forms have found homes here and around the
world. From corporate collections like the McDonald's headquarters in Chicago and Toronto, Lincoln National Life to the
institutional setting at the University of Notre Dame and Ball State, museums and temples in Hang Zhou, China to Takihata,
Japan, the Willennan Genealogy Center in Auburn, the White River Gardens and an installation of a free-form piece at the
Governor's Mansion in Indianapolis. His obelisk that dominates the parkway between Walnut and College serves as a familiar
landmark in the approach to Bloomington.
The 52-year-old Bishop Luers, Fort Wayne Art Institute and Indiana University graduate now lives and creates from an
1870's era Greek Revival farm house with a vintage bank barn that serves as his studio. The picturesque setting is situated
outside Bloomington, just a few up-and-down, curving miles from some of the famous limestone quarries that dot this area
of Monroe County and Southern Indiana. Enochs shares the space with his wife, Ann Berke, a biology and math teacher in
Bloomington, and their son, Ian, a marine biology major at the University of Miami, all of whom had a hand in the
property's 10-year renovation.
He may have inherited his artist's impulse from a grandmother who often sketched landscapes and portraits and an
imaginative mind that collected and arranged found objects in the manner that Swiss psychologist Carl Jung wrote about
of his own youth in his Dreams, Memories and Reflections. The Jungian theory of collective unconscious was an
early intellectual influence on Enochs. It remains an elemental piece of the mosaic that forms the artist's adventurous
spirit, though Enochs relates that his drive is no longer fueled as much by philosophical readings as it is now by experience.
His early interest in the arts propelled him to enroll at the then Fort Wayne Art Institute where he concentrated his
studies in ceramics. But it took two separate episodes that righted him on a path to eventual fulfillment. The first
happened in a second-year class at Indiana in Bloomington that proved to be a watershed in his career.
"I was throwing pots and producing pieces that were themselves structural," recalls Enochs, "and a professor bluntly
asked, 'Are you a sculptor or a potter?' and I haven't thrown a pot since then."
The second occurred shortly thereafter when, during an intensive seminar under noted landscape theorist Dr. Kenneth Yasuda,
Enochs was accused of reading too much and was encouraged to develop a reliance on his intuition, not ideas absorbed
through books. "That's when I started reading more comic books," the artist quipped.
His work sometimes combines simple arrangements of raw harvested pieces of variegated limestone rocks, which he uses to
great effect in his wall hangings. Typically these gray- and buff-hued elements are arranged in minimalist ways that
sing of nature's essential forms: earth, air, fire and water. Larger works act as totems, echoing other natural themes
and symbols of earth and sky. In other large public pieces Enochs marries metal with the rock, sometimes incorporating
the iron as oversized fasteners, as in the case of his "Sphere," one version of which now sits in front of the governor's
mansion in Indianapolis. Using steel rods, the artist has skewered vertical arrangements of limestone to a height of 10
feet as in his "Ishi Kawa" installation in Takihata peace park.
Throughout his works Enochs toys with space and time, purposely juxtaposing erased or voided space with solid surfaces
either blank, polished or inscribed. Four irregularly carved pieces come together as a perfect circle around a square hole.
Other times he chisels delicate lines, relieving the surface of rock faces, tracing figure drawings and reoccurring images
of the human form. Still in other pieces he works more conventionally, shaping the stone and releasing the forms he sees
imbedded within them, as in one of his latest pieces where an over-sized human bust with an anatomically correct heart
emerges. The bust's surface is engraved with patterns of thin lines with one small portion polished to a gloss.
In a recent departure of form Enochs began experimenting with aluminum as a medium of choice.
"I had been incorporating metal grating in some previous pieces and needed to have them fabricated to match the work, so
I became interested in how that effect was created," explained Enochs. "We used a drawing to begin with, but doing so meant
losing a fair bit of detail, so we moved on to using a computer and CAD-CAM software attached to a powerful waterjet with
an abrasive to cut the metal. There's a conversion from raster- to vector-based language to maintain the integrity of my
original, but it seems to be working. This has been a typical part of my work over the years in that my designs are two to
three years ahead of the technology I need."
Symbols like "Drowning Man" and "Falling Man" along with hollow man have long permeated Enochs' works. It's not clear from
whence these images arise (the artist does remember a dream about a great-grandfather who drowned) but his interest in the
human condition and our relationship with nature fuels his energy.
"We are all defined in some ways by our surroundings and I attempt in my work to discover that essence, which is mostly
undefined," the artist says, adding "It sounds so hokey and cliched when put into words."
Res ipsa loquitor.
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