Saxton Freymann and His Objet Trouvé Approach to Pumpkin Carving
I am also very thankful for this Block Association and to its board and volunteers for doing what they do. You only had to be in the street on October 31st to appreciate how much joy can come from a volunteer initiative. If you weren't, you'll get another chance with Solstice Caroling coming right up on December 21st.
To continue to knit the community and share news with neighbors, here on the Block Association blog December will be "Spread the Blove" month. If you've been enjoying these occasional posts, won't you share this with a nearby friend, family member or neighbor? The blog is a great way to stay in touch all year long with the W. 102nd & 103rd Streets Block Association. So tip off someone nearby. Send them the blog's address or point them to a favorite post. To receive news as it goes online directly to your email, just fill in the "Subscribe" box below. You'll receive a request to verify your subscription. And voilà! Just sit back and the next post will arrive to your inbox.
Love the Blog? Spread the Blove. Thanks for reading! And Happy Thanksgiving ~ Caitlin
By Caitlin Hawke
I decided to ask Sax a few questions and hope you'll enjoy this interview with a talented, generous neighbor. He's also provided some shots of past sculptures. And for you poodle lovers, my lagniappe is Sax's Broccoli dog. He's good and good for you.
Q&A with Saxton Freymann
Caitlin: Are you a neighbor? How long have you lived in Bloomingdale?
Sax: My wife Mia Galison and I have been in Bloomingdale for 27 years. Our kids grew up here and loved the parade and the block festivities at Halloween.
Caitlin: How did you come to be involved in the annual Block Association Halloween event?
Sax: I don’t remember how many years ago or who originally asked me if I would contribute a pumpkin, but I have continued to do it ever since. When my books were coming out 15 or 20 years ago, I had a slightly higher profile.
Sax: When I started doing books based on transforming fruits and vegetables, of course I had to include pumpkins. My approach is to use the natural form and do as little as possible to nudge it towards something it already resembles. This of course means that the stem is a nose…with some of my favorites I did not add eyes at all -- they are already implied in the wrinkles of the surface.
Sax: Many years ago my wife met a book designer and packager named Joost Elffers who wanted to do a book showing interesting things that could be done with food. He had already done a book in Europe along these lines and was looking to develop something more in sync with an American market. I got some produce, made a variety of things and sent him a bunch of pictures. That led to Play With Your Food, and the success of that book led to a series of children’s books with Arthur Levine at Scholastic.
Caitlin: Are you a vegetarian?
Sax: I am omnivorous.
Caitlin: So you eat the seeds!
Sax: I try to eat as much of the “waste" from my edible work as I can. When I was doing all the books my family would eat a lot of the day’s work. When I work with pumpkins, I often do not even cut through to the interior… so they last a bit longer.
Caitlin: How long do they last?
Sax: They generally do not last long, although I remember one that lasted for months! Most of what I do is about the final photographs.
Caitlin: How long does your traditional pumpkin take to carve?
Sax: It varies. I probably spend an hour or so on a pumpkin.
Caitlin: Jack O' Lantern or Pumpkin?
Caitlin: OK, but do you ever light your pumpkins from inside or is it all about the face?
Sax: My pumpkins are not lanterns. They are much more about the surface and the organic form.
Caitlin: Is there such a thing as carve-offs in the pumpkin sculpting world?
Sax: I have seen all sorts of competitive pumpkin carving over the years, featuring work with much more patience than I have. I am a very uncompetitive person, so that’s not for me.
Caitlin: Do you have any pumpkin trivia you'd like to share?
Sax: I don’t know if it still exists, but years ago there was an annual race on Glimmerglass Lake in Cooperstown, New York, in which competitors hollowed out and rowed enormous pumpkins. It was a remarkable and hilarious spectacle.
Many thanks to Sax for his indulgence here and for the many years of pumpkins at our tables. Readers curious to see more of Sax's work will also find his books How Are You Peeling? and Food Play in print. Also, scroll down for a short video with Sax. (If you are reading this post in your inbox, you need to go to the following link to see the video: www.w102-103blockassn.org/blog.