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Quixote sculpture inspires courage, honor and creativity

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Courtesy photo. Refurbished Quixote-inspired sculptures are on display at the Gateway Arts Center in Brentwood.

Courtesy photo. Refurbished Quixote-inspired sculptures are on display at the Gateway Arts Center in Brentwood.

Published on: Friday, June 21, 2013

By Wanda Jackson

Chivalry is not dead. Really, it isn’t.

That is the idea behind three sculptural panels now standing in front of the Gateway CDC-owned and managed Gateway Arts Center in Brentwood.

The whimsical panels are inspired by “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha,” a satirical tale of chivalry written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes.

The left panel depicts Sancho Panza, Don Quixote’s hapless squire, sitting backwards on his burro while it eats flowers from someone’s garden. This panel refers to a line Don Quixote shouts as they stumble noisily through a sleeping village late at night, “The dogs bark because we gallop.”

In the middle panel, Don Quixote, a knight errant and the original impossible dreamer, sits on his nag, Rocinante, and dreams of glory. Recall that Don Quixote always got into trouble because he saw things that were not there and did not see things that were there.

The right panel features Doña Quixote. She is not in the original story but is inspired by Don Quixote’s love interest, a poor farm girl named Dulcinea. Doña Quixote wears a crown and sits upon a magical winged horse, Valentina. Unlike Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Doña Quixote is welcomed everywhere for her wisdom, gentleness and love of nature.

Dan Walsh of Fire Knife Studio created the panels in 1996 in Liberty, Maine. Made from one-inch thick steel plates, the plates were hand fabricated using a number of welding and flame-cutting processes.

The panels were originally installed at the Quixote Center on Varnum Street in Brentwood. The panels were later donated to the Gateway Arts Center in memory of Bill Callahan, co-founder of the Quixote Center and the embodiment of Don Quixote.

“It’s a reminder that impossible dreams are not so impossible when dreamed together,” according to the Quixote Center’s mission statement. “We draw inspiration from the satiric idealism and gentle madness of Cervantes’ dauntless Don Quixote. By laughing a bit in the midst of struggle, we gain strength and heart to sustain our efforts.”

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