I had to think about how I felt when I heard of George Rhoads’ death. Very sad for his family and friends and having read Robert Lang’s obituary I wondered how to start mine. Like most people I had encountered is models back in the late 60s and early 70s in Sam Randlett’s and Robert Harbin’s books. The next time I came across his name was when I stayed with Sam and Thelma in the early 70s when I was shown some small mechanical works of George’s. One stays in my mind clearer than the others; it was a series of rectangles of different sizes which rotated around a point, not in the centre of each plate, around which they circulated slowly and made various different shapes and shadows which were pleasing to the eye. Sam had several of George’s smaller works and I wish I could remember how to describe more of them because I did like them better than the larger public works.
I had been told I’m one of my trips to the States that I would be able to see the one if George’s works at the 42nd Street airport terminus. I did make sure that I would see it on my next trip and was delighted to see that the only way you would know that it was a piece by George Rhoads was a small all pencil label on very small electric motor at the bottom of one corner to contact this number in case of problems. The work was very brightly coloured with several columns of what was the size of ping pong balls which circulated along different paths hitting various objects making different sounds; The movement and sounds of these would keep you fascinated for quite a while before bus arrived to take you to the airport.
On on the next trip I was staying with a non origami friend who lived in upstate New York. I was telling her about the colourful work that I saw in Wall Street terminus on my last visit, not mentioning George’s name. but she knew the name of the artist as she had curated an exhibition of Georgie’s work in the museum she was in charge of. She told me he lived a couple of hours drive away and wanted to see him about a future exhibition so made an appointment for us to visit him a couple of days later. We arrived before lunchtime and while she had her business chat with him I was taken to his workshop where I saw various parts of the new commission being tested on the workbench and when they came to join us I took a couple of pictures. We had lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon chatting about his work, a bit of origami and putting the world generally to rights.
Imagine my delight when visiting our daughter in Canada to see those parts in a completed work of George’s in in West Edmonton Mall in Alberta. Again the only indication that it was by George was the same small label. I found George to be a delightful conversationalist, a charming person and the visit proved to be one of the the highlights of that trip.