alice simpson

alice simpson
August 24
Having put my somewhat respectable career behind me, I explore new territory. It's a place without expectations that I follow orders, please anyone but myself, and best of all, there is no waiting to be paid. I bring with me, though, the experience to make, draw, see and hear. I've tried making things on paper, with clay and recently, bravely taken on the written word. While not very lucky in love, my creative life has been a more than satisfactory lover.


JUNE 7, 2011 3:23PM

The Three Graces

Rate: 3 Flag


 THE THREE GRACES (Urban Motion Series)



Urban Motion Series



26”H x  26” W

 Bronze (2014)




In May 2004, while standing in front of Symphony Space’s Thalia Theater on the corner of 94th and Broadway in New York City, I noticed a young woman with a waterfall of hair almost covering delicate features and dressed in muddy attire, except for shiny, red plastic, stiletto-heeled boots.

I'd never seen her in the neighborhood before, and knew instantly she would be perfect for a new work, "The Three Graces," based on an urban version of the sculpture by Antonio Canova (1757-1822).  Just couldn’t get the vision of this startling woman out of my mind.

A week later, passing the Thalia Theater, there she was again, looking very ‘street’  in white, shiny boots.  I asked her if she would pose for a sculpture, she accepted, and that was how I found my first live model, and the woman who would represent Thalia, of course!   The three Graces are Aglaia (Splendor), Euphrosyne (Mirth), and Thalia (Good Cheer).

 The summer passed with occasional thoughts about getting started on the new work, and questions of  where I might pose her, without bringing her to my apartment.  She looked dangerous. Time passed. 

Then came the autumn, and who gets on the Broadway bus and sits next to me? Taj, with the weeping willow hair.  She’s a struggling jazz singer and composer, working as a nanny.

When she arrived at my apartment, she brought a suitcase full of funky costumes from which I selected an outfit. As she posed, I photographed her in the round.


Over the next three months, at NY's legendary Art Student League, I developed a clay sculpture, with Taj as the goddess, Thalia, seen on the left of the work.  I worked both from photographs and Taj herself.  The other goddesses, Euphrosyne and Aglaia were created intuitively. The three figures were built on a triple armature. Antonio Canova’s work was observed for pose and grace.


When the piece was completed, and still damp, the difficult and time-consuming process of making a plaster mold and casting was begun. 

Over the next six months the plaster was refined. All breaks in the cast were repaired and, where necessary, recreated in plaster; dents, damage and holes filled. The next step was sanding with increasingly fine sandpaper and steel wool.

The piece was finished to appear as a bronze, with layers of colored pigments mixed with shellac, and then buffed, sanded, and polished by hand to bring out the sheen of warm, bronze highlights.

The daughters of the Greek god Zeus and the nymph Eurynome were named Thalia, Euphrosyne, Aglaia. These Graces symbolized all that was noble, beautiful and pure that had ever existed on the face of the earth. They presided over banquets, dances, and all other pleasurable social events, and brought joy and goodwill to gods and mortals. Thalia, Euphrosyne and Aglaia danced to the music of Apollo.

 Like the Muses, they were believed to endow artists and poets with the ability to create beautiful works of art. Without the Graces, it was said, there could be neither pleasure nor dancing. 





Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
What an wonderful accomplishment! I've always loved Euphrosyne for its sound and the muse it brings. Congratulations and best wishes.
have been trying to get here all afternoon. so glad i finally succeeded. urban graces indeed, gorgeous things. our world would be bleak for sure without pleasure and dancing (or the pleasure of dancing). nice to see a post on your blog, alice.
Enjoyed this updated version of the muses very much. I have a cameo with the muses from Victorian days. Lovely work.
Have been 'on the road' and unable to follow up on your comments.
FusunA, thanks for your note. I can always use good wishes.

Candace, too. Having moved to the sunnier left side of the country, I miss those urban gods and goddesses. There's less inspiration on this side of the country, isolated in my car, missing the crowded Broadway #104 bus.

Rita, thanks for your note of appreciation. It means a lot.
A dream has come true. THE THREE GRACES have been recreated in bronze, as well as two other sculptures in my Urban Motion series. It was exciting to work with Scott Katano at his California foundry, deciding on and watching the coloration of the material and sheen come to life. Living now in Southern California, I need not worry about a jolt turning these pieces into dust.