Artistique Magazine

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Artistique Magazine Summer/Fall 1990

Realism vs. Outlandish: Blair Ames and her Art

by Margaret Zimmer

Ranging from the smallest trinket to amazing human sculptures life-like enough to talk to them half an hour, Blair Ames’ museum, whose history and massive overhaul warrants its own article, has garnered the attention of local and international aficionados alike. 

Although the talent cannot be denied, industry professionals and the public alike have accused Ames of playing on people’s emotions by creating a sculpture of Joshua Rossi, the baritone and violinist who disappeared nearly a year ago. The Rossi family (who declined to comment) said the statue is a beautiful, albeit unauthorized tribute to the singer.

Though only three such statues exist, they draw the biggest crowd to the remote museum, which can only be reached through a wooded hike.

We were fortunate to sit with the enigmatic Ms Ames for an interview.

MZ: Undoubtedly, the statue of Joshua Rossi is the most popular in the museum. What’s your reaction to that?

BA: Obviously, I love all my artwork like children. I attribute their affection for the piece to be tied to the love for the man.

MZ: The sculpture is a dead ringer for Mr. Rossi. Even his family has commented about the likeness. It’s been said they’ve lingered in the gallery until closing time. How did you create something so lifelike?

BA: [smiles] If I told you, I’d have to kill you.

MZ: Of course. Can you tell us, though, how you managed such a likeness without having Mr. Rossi pose for you himself? Did the family help in the statue’s creation?

BA: The family had nothing to do with my process. I used a series of photographs as my basis for comparison. Even greats like Madame Tussauds use photography for subjects who are no longer alive to pose.

MZ: The accuracy of the likeness has prompted several to wonder if Rossi was in fact with you in the studio — or that he himself is on display.

BA: Believe it or not, I’ve had to speak to the police about this!They found no evidence of Mr. Rossi ever being in my studio or my museum, and I trust their conclusion satisfies your readers as well.

MZ: In addition to minor celebrities, you’ve sculpted two unknown persons. Are they celebrities in their own fields, or based on friends of yours?

BA: Closer to the latter. The woman in the exhibit with Rossi is based on someone I used to work with. The one beside the fountain is an old boyfriend. It ended amiably, so I don’t mind seeing him every day [laughs].

MZ: Can you give us a sneak peek at your next project?

BA: I find myself moved by stories like Joshua Rossi’s. Stunning singer — disappeared at his prime. I’ve been a fan of Indian cinema for years. Recently, one of their most prominent actors went missing, incidentally after being wrongfully declared dead. Your American readers likely won’t recognize the name, but South Asian will adore Ajay Kapoor.

MZ: You’re preparing for a surge of new guests?

BA: Absolutely. It will be an exhibit they’ll never forget.

Despite the differences in Ames’ work, there is a unifying thread: whether true to life or skewed, life is full of surprises. As guests in the museum, we found ourselves awed and disturbed. Blair Ames’ work mesmerizes us and we can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.

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