Well, I’ve been thinking of writing this blog entry for some time now, and I am squeamish at the thought of being so narcissistic as to mention this story.  But, I am proud of my friend, Jason Arkles, and I am very flattered to be connected to his work, so here it goes.

In the center of the city of Florence, I will have pigeons pooping on my head for all eternity.

My friend, Jason Arkles, is the only living artist, and the only American ever, to have a marble statue installed in the historic center of the city of Florence.  Right in the heart of the city, beside the Arno river, my friend Jason installed a six foot statue of St. Mark.  It is a remarkable sculpture that has brought my friend a lot of attention around the world, from NPR radio interviews, to newspaper articles in major cities.  And, I am flattered to say that he chose me to pose for this work.

Well, you can finish muttering to yourself that I am a self absorbed, narcissistic piece of marble.  Forgive me!


The Apotheosis of St. Mark, La Chiesa Anglicana di San Marco, Jason Arkles

markbustmainBust of Saint Mark, Bronze.

Jason had me pose for the work in the spring of 2007.  I don’t think I was the greatest model, as I was often late, and what not.  But, we are good friends, and we enjoyed talking for hours on end, drinking Moretti, eating lampredotto sandwiches.  Jason didn’t know it, but I had just found out that my wife Margaret was pregnant.  Being that it was a surprise, I was quite honestly scared out of my mind.  My wife, pregnant, in another country, and I had no established job, no structure…  Jason’s friendship and conversation really helped me simmer down.

When Jason finished up the clay study which I had posed for, he moved to the Italian countryside to begin his sculpting. Merely selecting the marble is a long tale in and of itself, so I will just fast forward to his work on the marble.  He retained his teaching job at the Charles Cecil studios, and so would teach in the city center of Florence during the week, and take a train out to the countryside to sculpt every weekend.  He lived in a gypsy caravan type thing (might have been a mobile home, I can’t remember exactly.)  Eventually summer rolled around, and Jason moved permanently to the countryside.  He would carve away at the marble for countless hours during the day, and read books by night.

Months later, with a beard down to his knees (might be wrong on that detail), he emerged from the countryside, with the statue on his back.  He carried it on his back all the way to Florence, and heaved it up onto a twelve foot tall niche in the wall of La Chiesa di San Marco.  Okay, maybe he rented a truck, but I prefer the Paul Bunyan-esque imagery of him carrying a statue on his back through the Tuscan countryside, waving to children, crossing a picturesque bridge.

Check out the statue of St. Mark, and more of Jason’s work at his website:



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