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January 24, 2014

Barre City Place Sculpture Honors History of Granite Workers

Coffee BreakIf you've been through downtown Barre and wondered what's under that tarp outside the brand-new Barre City Place building, here's a hint: coffee.

That is, "Coffee Break," Heather Ritchie's sculpture that speaks to the camaraderie and labor of the city's granite workers and stone carvers. And she should know. The Plainfield artist has spent some five years in the granite sheds herself.

Ritchie's commissioned piece is the first in the Stone Sculpture Legacy Program supported by the Charles Semprebon Fund. More works will be sited in the city over the next few years.

In the photo at right, Ritchie and Joe Calcagni of the Granite Corporation of Barre are setting the sculpture. See the lunchpail and Thermos at right?

Studio Place Arts director Sue Higby, who coordinates the program, has this to say in a recent announcement about Ritchie's work:

The sparely elegant sculpture recreates idle stone blocks waiting to be shaped where workers set down their cutters tools, lunch pails and coffees for a scheduled break. Four blocks of stone are arranged in a horseshoe shape to encourage people to enter the space and interact with the sculptures. The blocks of exposed granite showcase the natural beauty of the stone and invite viewers to rest on the blocks, touch the life size tools on the stone surfaces, and consider the work ethic of the men and women toiling in local sheds. 

"Coffee Break" will be unveiled in a ceremony on Wednesday, January 29, at 4 p.m.

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