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Terry Adkins Retrospective At The Pulitzer Opens Friday

March 11, 2020 Terry Adkins "The Last Trumpet"
Courtesy of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation
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Updated March 13 with revised event details

In light of the recent developments concerning the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Pulitzer announced that they are postponing all large events, including Friday’s Opening Reception and Saturday’s Curatorial Tour for their new exhibition, "Terry Adkins: Resounding." Click here for updates. 

Original story from March 11:

Terry Adkins didn’t believe in boundaries. He turned old radiators and railroad stakes into art. He made videos, explored the North Pole and obsessed over Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” He sought to make “music as physical as sculpture ought to be — and sculpture as ethereal as music is.”

Music was one of Adkins’ central themes. An accomplished jazz musician, he played the guitar and alto saxophone — and later made his own musical instruments. He assembled four of what he called “akhraphones” from parts of trombones and sousaphones and segments of cast brass. They were 18 feet long. They were sculpture, but they could also be played — as Adkins proved in 1996 with a piece called “The Last Trumpet.”

The akhraphones will be on display at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation as part of “Terry Adkins: Resounding,” a major retrospective of the artist that opens Friday. The show runs through Aug. 2, and will also include a performance of “The Last Trumpet” in June.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, associate curator Stephanie Weissberg discussed the exhibit and Adkins’ remarkable range of interests and collections. 

Listen to the conversation here:

With the akhraphones, Weissberg noted, Adkins didn’t set out to create instruments that could be played. It was only later that he turned his 18-foot sculptures into music with “The Last Trumpet.” 

“He had a very improvisational practice, which relates back to his history as a musician and his training in jazz in particular,” she explained. “And I think that comes through in a work like this.”

Of “The Last Trumpet,” she said: “It combines music, sound and sculpture in a very visceral way. He made this piece shortly after the death of his father to celebrate his father’s life. It’s an incredibly moving performance.” 

Related Event

What: "Terry Adkins: Resounding"
When: March 13-Aug. 2, 2020
Where: Pulitzer Arts Foundation, 3716 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Sarah Fenske joined St. Louis Public Radio as host of St. Louis on the Air in July 2019. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.