"Drawing from a keen childhood interest in animals (he is the only person I’ve known to have had numerous pet rats with names like Beans and Skitters, Billy, Mortifer and Snag) Dana Stewart has developed an unusual and highly personal sculptural menagerie. Looking at one of his bronze “Beasts” one sees an amalgam of dogs, rats, dinosaurs, and other muscular creatures morphed into a striking hybrid, usually with an agenda all its own.
For instance, The Chase, two long-legged creatures frozen in a head-to-tail whirlwind of frenetic movements of playful (or is it fore-playful) activity. Other beasts are caught in reflective moments normally associated with humans. That’s what can be so appealing in Stewart’s “Beasts” at times they possess a near human presence, exhibiting emotions such as fright and dread in Sue’s Nightmare, or the self-satisfied air of introspection found in The Bright Spot at the End of the Tail.
When Dana’s animals are placed outdoors, walking among trees or sniffing around in the grass, they seem more at home and become quite believable. Weighty, burly creatures perched on tapered, delicate legs in the yard outside his Lambertville studio or in the landscape at Ground For Sculpture, naturally go about their business, Each sculpture possesses its own individuality and personality, either docile or on alter with an exaggerated, outstretched tail belying a recent or impending confrontation.
The gentle wit and friendship of Dana’s “Beasts”, along with their frequently satirical titles, reflect the artist’s own sense of whimsy and generous spirit. By focusing his attention and vivid imagination on animals he provides the opportunity to bring humor into the viewer’s life. I’ve long admired and at times envied sculptors whose work seems to be as much fun to create as it is to look at and live with."
By Brooke Barrie, Chief Operating Officer & Curator 2006
Grounds For Sculpture, Hamilton / New Jersey