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The Philadelphia Traction Company

Produced by Michael O'Reilly


May 2012

A seven-foot-tall bronze likeness of the country singer Willie Nelson is being created in West Philadelphia. Installed in Austin TX, the statue was molded, cast and assembled "entirely in Philadelphia" says sculptor Clete Shields. winner of the sculptural commission from an Austin-area arts group. This is just one of the many artworks being made by THE PHILADELPHIA TRACTION COMPANY - a collective of Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts graduates who are inspired by the very space around them to make "big work". The space itself is a former trolley depot that covers half a city block and gave rise to, among the many "big" works of art, a dumpster-sized coffin and the "other" sculpture on Lenfest plaza; "Grumman Greenhouse", a monument reconfigured from a WWII-era prop airplane.



Color and the SculptorEdited by Meeri Kim
Sculptor Clete Shields is colorblind, and in this extended interview, he explains how his inability to see color actually facilitates his three-dimensional perception of objects. Shields also talks about his brief stint as an airbrush caricature artist in Vegas, where his colorblindness led to some comical misunderstandings.


Making a maquetteEdited by Noam A. Osband
Sculptors Joshua Koffman and Clete Shields tackle the common misperception that sculptors carve a statue from a single block of stone by explaining the use of a maquette: a small, three -dimensional "mock-up" from which measurements can be taken to realize a larger final sculpture.


Installing Willie
A behind the scenes look of the people that made it possible for the statue to be sculpted and set in place before the big unveiling that took place on 4/20 of the Willie Nelson Statue.