Dick Brush '52 with Cathy Tedford in front of the sculpture BirthIV

The Friend I Never Met

Deborah Dudley

I made a new friend the first day I stepped onto the St. Lawrence campus. I didn’t know his name or much about him, but he was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about art, and he was extraordinarily generous. We instantly hit it off.

Each time I decide to walk from Vilas Hall through the Kirk Douglas Hall underpass toward the steps (sometimes outdoor classroom) on the opposite side of the Quad, my friend is there. He is encouraging me to pause the “to do” list running through my mind and admire the retaining walls’ perfectly symmetrical lines and appreciate the right angles that orient me, framed with the “skyline” of the Gunnison Memorial Chapel spire and Richardson Hall, a horizon line that, at the right time in the evening, hosts perfect Scarlet and Brown silhouettes as the sun sets in the West. 

As I make my way along the Class of ’75 Promenade to the Brewer Bookstore for coffee, I am struck by the smooth edges and marvel at the sheer weight and scale of the giant “cracked egg” in the shade of the trees separating Gunnison Memorial Chapel from Carnegie Hall. My friend is there, too, and I know he is content with the fact that the sculpture is working its magic and inviting inquiry and curiosity. Is it an egg? What is it made of? How did they get that thing on campus? How much does it weigh? I want to touch it, climb on it, and rake my hand over the smooth sphere and jagged edges.

As I pass the Sullivan Student Center, my eyes are drawn to the laziness of the spinning cubes with their wavy texture of brushed steel that’s revealed when the sunshine strikes the surface. My friend invites me to consider the physics of the kinetic motion as well as come up with my own narrative for the George Rickey sculpture. I settle on it functioning as a futuristic sentinel standing at attention, playing tricks and making funny movements while on the job. My mind takes a sci-fi detour conjuring up a backstory of alien landings. This sentinel is what they left behind to watch over us. Friend or foe? Ah, my friend must be chuckling. The suspense!

I was never a fan of kinetic sculpture, but my friend changed my mind, showing me how beautiful and intriguing they can be, engaging me in different ways as the conditions and colors of each season contrast with the metal surfaces in motion. 

The friend I never met passed away recently. His name was Dick Brush, Class of 1952. After I heard the news, the only thing I could think was how grateful I am to have had a friend like him. How glad I am that he chose to invest in enriching the lives of everyone who walks across the St. Lawrence campus through the power of art. 

It is a great gift to be in the proximity of art, and because of Dick Brush, it is integral to the uniqueness of the St. Lawrence experience, sparking intellectual, aesthetic, and emotional exchanges both planned and unplanned. The conversations he has started through his transformational support of art and architecture will live on for generations of Laurentians. And, although we never met, I’m so glad we got to know each other, even just a little bit. Thank you, Dick.

Above: Dick Brush '52 standing with Cathy Tedford, Director of the Brush Gallery, in front of the sculpture Birth IV