Purple Pilgrimage to “Big Eye”

(Background Notes: The last year has brought many changes in photography and film lighting. One of the major changes has been in RGB lighting or LED lights that can produce hundreds of colors. The above is an experiment with the Boling Vlogger RGB light, a pocket-sized RGB light. The camera on the above is a Canon Vixia G60 placed on top of a small, motorized Annsm dolly. The wheels on the dolly are positioned to make the dolly run in a wide circle. The above short video is a corner of my living room the other night with the camera riding on the dolly in a part of a circle, past the RGB light and then towards objects on the floor mostly from my mother’s collection of pieces. The music was created a few years ago on my Alesis Micron keyboard. It was used mainly because its time of the piece closely matched the time of the video footage.)

Appropriately (but not planned) the little motorized dolly stopped on a metal sculpture titled “Big Eye.” Another one of those events in life that can only be chalked up to a meaningful coincidence known as synchronicity. Something unplanned by appropriate when viewed later.

The sculture was created in 1994 by our family’s old friend, the late Dr. Hugh Butt of the Mayo clinic. I simply stopped the Annsm dolly with the the remote device at “Big Eye” and then put the dolly into reverse and “Big Eye” moves out of the film. Looking at the short little film now, it almost seems like a type of pilgrimage to “Big Eye.”

Hugh (1910 – 2008) was an eminent physician, author, and educator specializing in gastroenterology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. His work in medicine pioneered the development of treatments for bleeding and clotting disorders, and most notably, he is credited with discovering the effects of vitamin K in patients with jaundice. He was supervised directly by Dr. Will Mayo and is widely considered the last link to this co-founder of the Mayor Clinic. As a physician, his entire medical career was spent at Mayo Clinic, including being on the boards of governors and trustees. He is also credited for being the forerunning developer of Continuous Medical Education (CME) in medicine. He served as president of the American College of Physicians in 1971 and 1972.

One of the interesting stories that Hugh told me on one of my visits to Rochester was about his friendship with Ernest Hemingway who came to the clinic in the early 60s for treatment for depression. Hugh and another doctor at Mayo were charged with taking care of “Papa” Hemingway while during his stay at the clinic. At the time, Hemingway was being give shock treatments and he found a little oasis away from these at Hugh’s home.

“The Smallest Red Head”

Retiring from medicine in 1980, he took up sculpting and was a self-taught artist whose favored medium was metal, wire, and metal found objects such as tools. He had an incredible studio just a few blocks from the Mayo buildings and it was an honor for me to visit his incredible shop on my trips to Rochester. His art started to become known and there were a number of shows and interests from art galleries. People began to collect sculptures by Hugh that he did not give away so graciously as gifts.

“Just Red”

Hugh was a gifted artist in areas beside medicine and his art was best expressed in metal sculptures which he welded together and painted from various parts from old industrial machinery and scraps. Hugh’s sculpture shop was filled with all types of whimsical sculptures gave names to like “Big Eye” and “The Smallest Red Head” and “Just Red.” (Hugh had red hair)

I’ve got a number of Hugh’s sculptures at the house and – who knows – they might be appearing in more films. The short “pilgrimmage to Big Eye” was not planned but just came about, bringing with it memories of a wonderful friend of me and my family.

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RIP Hugh and Papa.

One thought on “Purple Pilgrimage to “Big Eye”

  1. Hello John,
    This story brought back so many memories for me of knowing a few gifted Surgeons and Dentists over the years who were spectacular in their professional fields as well as inspiring in their found ‘later in life’ artistic fields. As well as my own personal mentor Yousuf Karsh who’s photograph of “Papa” Hemingway graces your story. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story of a truly wonderful human being, Dr., and artist. I also am intrigued by the Boling Vlogger RGB light, which has so many possibilities in miniature diorama and theatre lighting.

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