Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Roderick Hill Kagan

Roderick H. Kagan died peacefully on Dec. 14, 2010, in Sun Valley, Idaho, after a brief illness. Rod was born on March 25, 1940, in South Orange, N,J. He grew up in Short Hills and graduated from Bernardsville High School.

Rod moved to Chocolate Gulch just north of Ketchum/Sun Valley in 1975. Here he designed and built his octagon-shaped home, workshop and studio, which are now surrounded by his awe-inspiring sculpture garden. Today the Idaho columns soar 25 feet above his home while the 14-foot North Fork columns stand sentinel in front. These monumental steel columns are complemented by Rod's works in bronze—totems, benches, chairs, reclining and standing ladies, tri-points, wall sculptures and a series of bronzes that Rod numbered for each year of his age.

Rod used a most personal and unusual process to create his sculptures. He did not make drawings or maquettes for casting by a foundry. After he conceived each work in his mind, he worked directly with the metal. He would sketch his designs on the metal surfaces, then cut and bend the shapes and weld the pieces together to complete his sculptures.

Rod's sculptures are in private collections and public spaces throughout the United States and abroad. A collection of his sculptures is in the Boise Art Museum sculpture garden, and three totems grace the corner of Eighth and Idaho streets in Boise. In addition, an 8-foot Hanukkah menorah is at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles.

In 1990 Rod was an honored recipient of the Idaho Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts; in 1984 he received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship grant; and in 1983 he participated in the Art From Idaho exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art.

Rod was the devoted son of the late Alfred Blanchard Kagan and Marie Hill Kagan of Jupiter, Fla. He is survived by his brother Alfred B. Kagan Jr. (Tim) and Tim's, wife, Sally, of Easton, Md., and his brother Peter H. Kagan (Pete) of Ennis, Mont., Pete's son, Andrew Kagan (Andy) and Andy's wife, Rebecca (Beckie), and Andy and Beckie's son, Wesley Kagan of Westcliffe, Colo.

All are grateful to Rod's many friends for their love and support, in particular to Julie Firestone, Monica Scully and everyone at the Wood River Hospice for their care and caring.

Rod was a most kind and gentle man who, when not in his shop or studio, loved to be with his friends hiking in the Sawtooths, skiing on Baldy and fishing in the Big Wood River. Rod not only created his sculptures, but also established lasting relationships and a living legacy.

A memorial service will be held at a future date. Donations may be made in Rod's memory to the Hospice of the Wood River Valley, Box 4320, Ketchum, ID 83340 or to the charity of your choice.

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