Merab Berdzenishvili (1929-2016)
Autumn, 1989 Bronze
It’s no small thing that Autumn, strategically placed on the Traverse City’s courthouse lawn, was dedicated on July 4, 1991. Purchased through a Rotary Grant, the sculpture is the result of a sister city exchange between Traverse City and Tblisi, Georgia, then part of the USSR.
In the fall of 1989, Grand Traverse County Commissioner, Joe Muha, led a delegation of County Commissioners and area residents to Tblisi, Georgia. At that time an agreement was drawn up to further develop ties between the two cities through an exchange of information about the life of both cities, their regions, businesses and local governments.
While there, the delegation met noted sculptor, Merab Berdzenishvili. It was then that local architect, John Dyksterhouse, came up with the idea of an art exchange. Mr Berdzenashvili offered to send a sculpture of his work to Traverse City and in return, local architect and artist Bob Holdeman and artist Paul Welch created a stained glass sculpture to send to Tblisi.
Furthering ties and friendships, a delegation of seventeen Georgians visited the Grand Traverse area for one week in May of 1990, and in October of that year County Coordinator, Ross Childs led a delegation of fifteen residents back to Tblisi, each carrying a work from local artists to be on exhibit in Tblisi.
In this sculpture, Autumn, Mr. Berdzenishvili presents a stylized head of a woman with flowing hair containing clusters of grapes, seemingly bursting with sweetness and meant to symbolize the fruit, vegetable and wine growing region of Georgia and autumn’s bounty as well as the connection to Traverse City’s own fruit-growing region. It was drawn from a much larger sculpture by Mr. Berdzenishvili that stands in the main square in Mtskheta, Georgia. The base for Autumn was designed by architect John Dyksterhouse and fabricated by Jerry Fielstra. It originally held a brass plaque containing names of Georgians who helped bring this gift to Traverse City.
Mr Berdzenishvili graduated from the Tblisi State Academy of Arts in 1955. He was accepted into the Painters Union of the Soviet Union in 1957 and in 1959 received a Diploma of the VII World Festivals of Students and Youth in Vienna for his Portrait of A Young Georgian Woman. He received the highest honor when he was awarded the USSR State Prize and State Prize of Georgia. His extraordinary, monumental work is represented throughout Georgia.
A famous Georgian sculptor, painter and graphic artist, a holder of Shota Rustaveli State Prize, Merab Berdzenishvili died on September 17, 2016. He was 87 years old.
Berdzenishvili mainly worked in the field of monumental sculpture and has created numerous works located in Georgia (country). In 1995, Berdzenishvili was awarded with Georgian State Prize for Didgori Memorial. He also was very successful in graphic art, as well as theatrical spheres. Berdzenishvili received numerous titles, including the Merited Artist of Georgia and he was also the President of the Georgian Cultural Foundation. In 1983 he was named an honorary citizen of Tbilisi and in 2001 he was awarded with the prize of F. Nansen, the Nobel Prize Laureate.
Go See It
The sculpture is located on the corner of Washington Street and Boardman Avenue.
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