BUFFALO, NY.- This is a truly inspiring and extraordinary story. In July of 2011, Mark Weisbeck received an email from His Eminence, the Most Rev. Archbishop Stephen Enea, ruling Archbishop of the Italo-Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of the Americas and Canada. The Archbishop came across Mark Weisbecks 9/11 Memorial Sculpture, Remembrance and Renewal, 9-11memorialsculptures.com and asked to purchase Weisbecks sculpture and incorporate it into his September 11th Memorial Park as well as commission an additional centerpiece sculpture.
The Archbishop attached CAD images of the 9/11 Memorial Park which is currently under construction on property owned by the Archdiocese, in Utica, New York, which is the See City of the Italo-Greek Archdiocese and asked if Mark could arrange a meeting as soon as possible.
The next week Mark and his wife Diane carefully packed up Marks Remembrance and Renewal 9/11 sculpture model for the meeting with the Archbishop. At the last moment; as an afterthought, Mark remembered that he had created a series of modern religious sculpture models and said, Why not bring them along?
The Weisbecks met with the Archbishop at the Cathedral of the Theotokos of Great Grace in Utica, New York. It was a grey, rainy day, but the kindness, integrity and sincerity of the Archbishop shone through and made the day seem bright and warm to the Weisbecks. As the Archbishop looked at the 9/11 sculpture model from all angles, he was overcome with emotion. He commissioned the Weisbecks sculpture to be built 20 feet high. It would be a majestic, positive symbol; memorializing the lives lost during the events of September 11 with love and honor. September 11 Memorial Park.
After Mark packed up his model he asked, I have a few other sculpture models, would you like to see them?
Mark unwrapped and placed upon the table four modern religious sculpture models; designs that he had created but had shown to very few people. A modern cross, a stylized Madonna Lily, a modern eternal flame memorial sculpture and a contemporary design referencing a Gothic cathedral were placed before the Archbishop. His Eminence looked at the four models and said, Ill take that and that and that one and that one. All designs can be viewed on Modern Religious Sculpture.com
The Weisbecks looked at each other. Had they heard that correctly? Did the Archbishop just say that he wanted to commission ALL four modern religious sculptures in addition to the 20 ft. tall 9/11 memorial sculpture? And a centerpiece sculpture for his Sept. 11 Memorial Park? Yes. Thats what he said.
What the Weisbecks did not know was that the Archbishop had conceived of a program nine years earlier to rebuild and revitalize the neighborhood in and around his parish and the Italo-Greek Orthodox See City of the Archdiocese, in Utica, New York. Several pieces of land had already been purchased for a grand concept called, The Cathedral Plan. The Archbishop had previously decided on concepts for a series of parks to be constructed on that land. One park concept was The Calvary. The second park was Our Lady. The third park concept was a memorial for a firefighter. The Cathedral of Theotokos was being renovated and also needed a sculpture.
Each of the sculptures that Weisbeck brought and presented to the Archbishop corresponded exactly with the themes of the parks. As the Archbishop stated, There is no doubt in my mind that the Holy Spirit brought us together.
Besides the truly miraculous circumstances leading up to this unprecedented commission for award winning sculptor Mark Weisbeck, the extraordinary insight of the Archbishop to commission large scale, modern, religious public sculptures is unparalleled in the worlds of art or religion. To take such a bold step forward and bring religious art into the 21st century as the centerpiece statements for each park is unique in the entire world. Italo-Greek Orthodox Church.
The sizes that the sculptures were commissioned for are impressive. Remembrance and Renewal, 20 ft. Patina Cross, 15 ft. Cathedral, 8 ft. Madonna Lily, 10 ft. Eternal Flame, 15 ft. The centerpiece sculpture is yet to be determined. The parks and sculptures are scheduled to be installed in 2012-2013.
This unique multi-park complex will be a haven of peace, hope, tranquility, reflection, remembrance and renewal and communion with God. We foresee the pilgrimages of long ago being reinterpreted for people of today, Mark Weisbeck states. Uitca, New York will be a destination point as an oasis of spirituality for millions of people around the world. As the artist chosen to create the signature sculptures for this amazing haven, I am honored beyond measure.
Mark Weisbeck was born in Buffalo, New York and graduated from the University at Buffalo, New York. He has won numerous international sculpture commissions. Weisbeck represented New York State in the Beijing, China Olympics and has been commissioned by the NYSDOT and the NYSDOS to build large scale public art and sculptures.
Diane Weisbeck was born in the Bronx, New York. Archbishop Stephen Enea was born in Utica, New York. The Weisbecks live and work in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, not far from Rochester, New York.