Monday, September 21, 2009

"I don't know much about art..."

Rooting around in the Albert E. Mackay Papers (Accession 2002-005), we find a great deal of correspondence about the rededication of Mackenzie Hall (formerly known as the Medical Science Building) and the campaign to fund the creation of a bronze plaque commemorating Kenneth A.J. Mackenzie, M.D.

The commission for the plaque, which was to bear a likeness of the deceased Mackenzie, was awarded to the artist A. Phimister Proctor. Proctor had recently heightened his reputation in Portland with the completion of a model for a statue of Theodore Roosevelt, commissioned in 1922 by Henry Waldo Coe (whom regular readers will remember was the owner and operator of Morningside Hospital). Proctor sent a sketch of the proposed design to Mackay and other members of the dedication committee:


The lack of any reply from the medical school forced Phimister to write in enquiry. It was up to Dean Richard Dillehunt to break the bad news (click for larger image):


Proctor didn't seem too put out by the negative reviews; he went on to modify the design until it met with acceptance by all parties. One of the reasons for Proctor's patience with the process may be that he was a patient: the dedication files also include letters between Proctor and orthopedist Dillehunt concerning Proctor's bad hip. Nothing like a little free medical advice...

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