Monday, May 9, 2011

The "Unknown Student" sculpture at Rochdale College

Click the photos to enlarge them

                                                   Unveiling Ceremony April 4, 1969

(Much of this entry is derived from "The Life and Art of Edward Apt", a picture book biography researched and written by Kamill Apt and Wolf Sullivan © 2011.  It is available for sale on and there is a free sample of the book on the internet.)

One of he most famous outdoor sculptures in Toorotten is Rochdale College's giant hulking bronze statue known as the "Unknown Student". Sitting in a yoga position with its head tucked down, it is a great work of art expressing innocence, strength, and mystery. It is sad, meditating, or navel gazing perhaps, definitely withdrawn into itself and originally positioned with its back turned against society. The massive statue with a
weight of 500 pounds and about 10 feet tall on its pedestal was created in 1969 by the Rochdale College Sculpture Shop.

The Rochdale Sculpture Shop was started in Rochdale College soon after it opened by Edward Apt. He was a Hungarian born in 1934 who went to Vancouver in 1957 with 196 other students from the School of Forestry at Sopron University in Hungary after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Sometimes Ed would show people the tank machine gun bullet scars he received during the revolution as a Freedom Fighter. Ed's father Edmund was a professor specializing in Entomology and Forest Protection, and was persuaded by two delegations from UBC to join the UBC faculty. The School of Forestry was re-established at UBC, then Ed changed his focus from forestry to Fine Art at UBC between 1957-61. After graduation Ed worked as an artist in British Columbia. Over 60 of Ed's works are located in Vancouver, Victoria, Toorotten,
Venezuela, Hungary, and elsewhere in North America.

On September 18, 1963, Ed flew to Colombia to attend the wedding of his brother Kamill, and spent a few months with him before joining his parents in Jusepin, Venezuela where his father was teaching forest engineering at the University of Monagas State. Ed spent a year there and another year in Caracas, sculpting and enjoying life before flying to
Toorotten on March 24, 1965. In Toronto Ed continued to sculpt and have a good time. He was involved with Campus Co-op, where he lived and had his sculpture shop.

Ed was one of the first people to move into Rochdale College. In fact, Ed Apt was the first person to fuck in Rochdale. According to his brother Kamill Apt: "He says he inaugurated the place, when one evening he and a girlfriend went to see the view from the top floor of the unfinished windowless concrete monster. There, inspired by the twilight over Toronto, they performed the very first of the many, many thousand acts of fornication ever to take place in 'Crotchdale' College."

It must be mentioned that Ed was totally unsympathetic regarding hippies. He thought they were flakey, and did not like their freaky, eccentric, and bizarre conformism. However, he did like artistic hippies and there were many of them in Rochdale. As a bohemian himself, he understood hippies, but he also saw how the basic idea behind the movement – the younger generation's genuine need for change – got lost behind appearances, social superficialities, and how it eventually was corrupted into the highly profitable drug culture. He never was part of any of it, just observed it from the outside. Ed was nonexclusive, sociable, kind, helpful, lovable, but an absolute individual. He was a complete unit unto himself and needed no one. Because Ed was at least a decade older than most Rochdalians, he called himself "Uncle Ed" in his many contributions to the Rochdale newsletter. In one of his entries he wrote, "The only thing I have in common with you, hippies, is our common enemy: the squares. I am grossly unimpressed by you and them but all in all I marginally prefer you. Hence our alliance."

In March 1969 Ed was listed in "The Rochdale Curriculum":

* SCULPTURE: With the guidance and participation of craftsman/sculptor, Ed Apt, the group has created a cooperative sculpture for the front plaza, now being cast in bronze, and due for unveiling in April. Student-members of the group are now going ahead to individual works.

* PATIO AND TERRACES COMMITTEE: Also under the direction of Ed Apt, this group is planning for the last stages of the building of Rochdale: the designing of the front plaza and the terraces on the 2nd and 17th floors for summer use. A Crafts Fair, where Rochdale artisans will make and sell leather goods, candles, batiks, carvings, ceramics, posters, etc, and a refreshment stand featuring hot dogs and crepes suzettes are planned for the main entrance. The 2nd floor is to have a small stage and music shell for open air concerts and performances. Up top, they plan for an adult/children's playground, with small and large size swing, slides, and boxes, etc.

Ed wrote in the Rochdale newsletter: "I was living in the organization 'Campus Co-operative Residences', 'a free school' in which the idea of Rochdale was conceived. I soon realized that interior design school at Ryerson was anti-art, so I honourably finished my first year and didn't bother going back. Instead I joined 'the Rochdale thing' with the purpose of trying to organize a really interesting sculpture school. One that would operate on my recently ripened principles:
1) There is no such thing as an art student, everyone is a full fledged artist.
2) Art criticism and art teaching are but legal crimes.
3) There is no reason why there should be any gap between the artist and the world."

The first meeting of the Rochdale Sculpture Shop took place at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, October 9, 1968 in the basement parking garage. Originally it was scheduled for the second floor coffee shop, but about 80 people showed up, so it was re-located. Judith Merril helped Ed organize it. Ed sat at a large table close to a wall and outlined the Sculpture Shop course and his role as a technical aid instead of a traditional instructor. He said the first project would be a large piece for the college plaza created by all students, and explained the difficulties of creating a big sculpture.

Next about 25 in attendance went to the Rochdale Sculpture Shop in the garage behind the Hassle Free Clinic at 252 Dupont St., just east of Spadina Rd. The shop was approximately one mile from Rochdale, and was rented by the Rochdale Registrar's office. There was also a Welding Shop in the garage at 403 Huron St., just 3 houses south of the college. Ed promised the students they could be "making a living by spring". The first project undertaken was to be "a big piece mutually beneficial to everyone". Ed explained more about creating the large sculpture and gave everyone interested in the project some plasticine clay to make models to bring to the next meeting.

At the second meeting, the "Unknown Student" by Derek Heinzerling was selected after 6 secret ballots. Ed gave his support to this design because it would be relatively easy to create because of its shape. The two men were good friends, but that was probably irrelevant to the project. There was a group within the group who wanted an odd abstract design, but it was not chosen, mostly because it would be too difficult to make. This small group quit the Rochdale Sculpture Shop.

Ed titled the statue "Unknown Student" possibly because cenotaphs to "The Unknown Soldier" are found in many cities, and it might refer to anonymous students in large universities who are unknown to their professors. It's also obvious that the sculpture's face is hidden, and therefore the student is "unknown". Although Ed usually is given credit for the "Unknown Student", the designer is traditionally given the credit, so it would normally go to sculpture student Derek Heinzerling, a 22 year old draft evader from Garrett, Indiana. However, because Ed made changes to Derek's design and did much work on the sculpture, Derek has said, "The sculpture is Ed's." Probably the most unusual fact about "Unknown Student" is it was originally planned to be translucent, not bronze, and it was going to be illuminated from the inside.

According to a Toronto Star article in April 1969 Derek said, "The way the statue got his name was really beautiful. We were sitting in the Rochdale Cafeteria and we showed the drawing to this guy – he was pretty unhappy. He said it looked like the unknown student. The sculpture suddenly became meaningful to me." However, Derek denies ever saying this and found other errors in the article. Perhaps the quote is from Ed Apt. In both David Sharpe and Brian Grieveson's books on Rochdale, Derek is incorrectly named Dale. Derek wonders if he should hire a PR man to deal with all the misinformation.

At first the Sculpture Shop had a model. But she quit, and Ed wrote in the college newsletter, "Our model-to-be decided to leave us, after failing to fight off her inhibitions about being naked in public. A successor is wanted. She ought to be 'sculpturesque', at least for this current project." However, there were no more models for the Rochdale Sculpture Shop.

Work on the statue was done in the hearse garage of the nearby Thompson Funeral Home. Supplies to make the enormous sculpture were expensive, and Ed Apt wrote in the Daily, "presently we are waiting for replies of manufacturers from whom we are trying to bum stuff again. They better be generous because our money is down to a disturbing 36 cents." Fortunately industrial firms donated $2000 of material required to build the sculpture. Ed reported, "Domtar and Canadian Gypsum companies delivered twelve hundred pounds of moulding plaster to our shop, free. Thanks! The establishment is very good to us. All it takes is a phone call and the donations just pour in by the tons. (Remember Toronto Brick Co. last month?)" Toronto Brick Co. had donated bricks to support the huge mold for the sculpture, although Ed and student Alan Reed had to go there and pick them up.

A clay figure was made for the plaster mold. Then the statue was made of polyester resin mixed with bronze powder. No recipe was used, which is why there is so much variation in colour. Heinzerling's original concept was, "an homage to Rodin with much obvious references, including texture, agony of flesh, visceral empathy, etc." However, Ed talked Derek into making changes to his design, such as enlarging the abdomen and head. He also convinced Derek to give the sculpture a brick-end texture by pounding the clay model with the end of a brick. Derek didn't want that texture, but did as he was instructed. His best friend Alan Reed in the group was with him for help and support during the texture process. "Unknown Student" was made by Ed Apt, Derek Heinzerling, Dan Kelly, Brock Fricker, Alan Reed, Sylvia Martin, and others.

It took four months to complete and was unveiled on Good Friday, April 4, 1969 before noon. Originally the advertised plan was for a parade at 2 p.m. to accompany the sculpture down Spadina Rd. for the unveiling at 3 p.m. The Rochdale Open-Hearted Marching Band was to escort the sculpture with people making music with kazoos, coffee cans, baby rattles, horns, drums, bells, and recorders. Unfortunately, Rochdale could not get a permit for a parade, which was to be part of the Rochdale Spring Festival.

The Spring Festival was organized largely by Judith Merril to celebrate the unveiling of the "Unknown Student" sculpture and the coronation of King James I of Rochdale.

Schedule of Events

Friday April 4
2:00 Parade of Unknown Student down Spadina to the College
3:00 Unveiling of Unknown Student
3:30 Coronation of the King of Rochdale.
8:00 – ?? Patio Dance
9:00 "The Ballad of Crowfoot", Movie by Willam Dunn plus singing and open forum on Red Power.
10:00 and midnight Amateur film festival.

Saturday April 5.
2:00 Repeat of the "Ballad of Crowfoot"
afternoon informal fashion show
8:00 Folk Concert 2nd Floor Lounge.

Sunday April 6
2:00 Repeat of the "Ballad of Crowfoot"
4:00 Poetry Reading – Tom Ezzy

FRIDAY – MONDAY continuous
Arts and crafts, poetry folk music, etc, in the front patio.
Films being shown in the cafeteria including Flowers on a One Way Street, Powwow at Duck Lake and many others beginning Saturday. Watch for announced schedule on the 2nd floor Bulletin Board.
Beginning Saturday, Exhibition of the photography of resident photographer Tamio Yakayama – held in the store front by the bank.

Because there was no parade, the sculpture students gathered at the studio and moved the "Unknown Student" to Rochdale in the morning. Ed was in a good happy mood. The sculpture was moved from Dupont St. down Madison Ave. with a tarp over it. It was loaded onto a pallet on the side rails of a pick-up truck, turning it into a flatbed. At the front plaza of Rochdale the tarp was removed while on the truck and the sculpture was christened by pouring champagne over it. Then six students lifted the pallet off the truck and onto the cast concrete base that had been prepared beforehand by Hank Wood. They tilted the sculpture up, and pulled the pallet from underneath and set the piece back down. Gravity alone kept it in place, according to Derek Heinzerling, until it was moved and the pedestal destroyed after Rochdale College was closed.

However, Brian Williams, who never lived in Rochdale, also helped install the sculpture. He is certain there were holes in the pedestal and rebars on the bottom of the sculpture. Brian saw Ed pour concrete cement in the pedestal holes to anchor the sculpture. For what it's worth, Derek designed and helped make the sculpture and has a better memory than Brian. But student Alan Reed also vaguely recalls Ed using cement.

One thousand invitations were mailed out for the unveiling, and hundreds of people attended the ceremony. Both Derek and Brian describe the crowd as, "Hundreds of hippies." There was a crush of people surrounding the students, looking on but not helping. Derek Heinzerling was toasted with chocolate chip "herbal" cookies after the loading and unloading of the sculpture. The statue was positioned facing the building, so residents could see its head from their apartments, and its backside was basically mooning straight society. This position was part of Derek's design, and Ed Apt remarked that it "faces in the right direction". Some time later a plaque was attached at the base of the sculpture, but it eventually disappeared. Unknown Student was installed near the far west end of the front plaza close to the sidewalk, then in 1971 it was moved about 30 feet closer to the college entrance without changing its "backside" position.

On April 2, 1969 Rochdale became a monarchy when Governing Council declared the college a constitutional monarchy, with the powers of the monarchy derived from the elected council. Jim Garrard, the founder of Theatre Passe Muraille and a member of Governing Council was elected King James I of Rochdale. The college operated as a monarchy for a while and King James helped speed things up by avoiding excessive decision-making by consensus. Because of the time change of the sculpture unveiling, the coronation ceremony took place directly after the unveiling. King James wore street clothes covered with a white cloak and carried a sceptre.

On the front patio King James began his lengthy acceptance speech: "There are a great many people in this building who have something to say and a lot of ideas. Without meaning to be repressive or to suppress these processes, I feel we have to set up a climate where people can come together and discuss those projects and problems which concern them...You can't try to be a great king because something tragic happens to you and you can't be a weak king or something terrible will happen to you. But if one is a mediocre king, one can rule for a long time – that's been proven historically. Now another thing to be taken into consideration..."

The king was interrupted by a heckler who shouted, "Who the fuck are you?"

King James replied, "You can get away with that kind of thing today, but I wouldn't try it tomorrow. We are going to put punishment stocks in the main lobby and people will be sent to them starting with Bernie Bomers."

The crowd responded with, "Yeah Yeah Yeah...Hah Hah Hah!"

King James continued, "They might think it's a joke but after 10 or 15 minutes they will say, 'Okay now, let me out of here.' Three days they'll change their minds and maybe you get what's coming to you. I only mention this to explain why the powerful have done this to you..."

Another heckler shouted, "Jim Garrard sucks!"

The king replied, "Take his name. Now we're going to set up a throne room, and I hope by early next year each of you will have had occasion to visit that room. Of course, there will be other opportunities to deal with my ministers and me..."

After the speech King James climbed on the shoulders of the "Unknown Student" to cheers from the assembled crowd, and dangled his legs on both sides of the sculpture. The sculpture students were feeling the effects of the "herbal" cookies, not very interested in the coronation, which they felt was irrelevant to their accomplishment.

This was the first time anyone had climbed onto the sculpture, and Alan Reed was concerned about King James damaging it. Prophetically, Ed Apt told him, "Only bricks thrown off the roof of Rochdale could break the Unknown Student." After the coronation, everyone went elsewhere to celebrate, and the "Patio Dance" scheduled for 8 p.m. was canceled. Members of the Rochdale Sculpture Shop had a private party in the building.

Ed wrote in the Rochdale newsletter: "Dear Folks, The sculpture we are mounting today on your front patio is the product of your sculpture shop. We thought that if the city hall can have its statue, Rochdale can too, and we have done it. The city paid $125,000 for the Moore, you paid virtually nothing for yours. This goes to show that 'the home made' is 'better' than the one you get. Conclusion: make your own children yourselves! Love, Uncle Ed."

In another issue of the Daily he wrote: "Of course, the formation of the Rochdale sculpture program coincided with the completion of the Rochdale building, so it was obvious that Rochdale should make its own sculpture, so the big commercial project – the product of which is the "Unknown Student" – was organized. Around the time of the unveiling it became obvious that Rochdale would not be able to subsidize an expensive school the self-supporting commercial sculpture policy admitted. Advertising hadn't even begun yet when the first prospective customer appeared on the scene. Construction company owner A.C. Murphy called me to see him...He told me he wanted us to make a piece for Tartu that he would donate to the owners of the building."

Everything suggests that Ed Apt designed and built the "music shell" dome stage that was located at the east end of the second floor terrace for several years. It was his plan to create it, and he certainly had the skills and ability to do so. But at this time neither he nor Derek remember if he did it. The stage was used during the July 1969 Rochdale Summer Festival and Allen Ginsberg read his poetry on the same stage in September 1970.  On January, 1972 Governing Council "resolved that the General Manager disassemble the dome on the second floor patio."  It was dismantled in July 1972 because the City of Toronto was concerned it would be used as a musical stage and disturb the neighbours.

Ed's Sculpture Shop had a "weld up" competition on the front patio during the 1969 Summer Festival, and followed it with the "unhatching" of Brock Fricker's "Giant Toad". It was not art, just a commission for a garden ornament and it looked like one. Alan created the statue of a man in the style of Alberto Giacometti, when Ed let his students use left over material to make their own sculptures. Brock liked Alan's statue so much he greedily asked for it and Alan foolishly gave it to him as a gift. That's pretty sleazy, getting paid for a
trashy ornament, and expecting genuine art for free. In March 1970 Jerry Ofo of the Sculpture Shop designed a sculpture of 8 jumping men, but it was never completed due to lack of funding.

While in Rochdale Ed created "The Businessman", a five foot tall statue. He was very happy with it and later told his brother Kamill that it looked so disgusting after one of his students threw it out an eighth floor window. The crazy idiot thought the philosophy of the sculpture represented a threat to the people in Rochdale. Fortunately it did not fall on anyone but it was damaged beyond repair. Ed also created "Earth", "Mermaid", "Elk", "Fountain", "Dolphin" and other sculptures while living in Toronto.

After a year in Rochdale, Ed became weary of it. He wrote in the Daily: "Rochdale Has Exploited Me: The theory used to be (and still is) that Rochdale is an island of brotherhood in the sea of rotten corruption 'out there'. And I, foolish idiot, believed this and took Rochdale seriously. I believed, because I wanted to, that in this place the revolution of innocence and kindness would prevail and set itself aside from the outside world of politics, cliques and exploitation. Hence I didn't play politics and got duly screwed. Serves me right. Meanwhile all the other resource persons played the game of lobbying at the 'right' places and 'fighting' for their budget. I did none of these and got nothing. 'Rochdale is a learning experience' says the only truth telling slogan about this organization, and what I learned here is that it isn't different from the outside world. Uncle Ed"

Ed was part of the mass exodus of scholars and artists from Rochdale College in 1970. He left Toorotten for Vancouver in 1970 and continued sculpting, creating "Downtown Goddess" and others. In the Fall of 1971 he entered UBC to become a Spanish teacher. Tragically, Ed was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle collision in 1972. His accident happened at the intersection of 10th Ave. and Sasamat St. on March 10, 1972. He was left half blind and partially paralyzed. During his long recovery he befriended his nurse, Ruth Richmond, who was his lover until the accidental end of her life in 1977. Ruth and Ed never married, and visited Toronto together and met with Derek Heinzerling a few times. Ed is now living at the James Bay Lodge in Victoria, B.C. and he is not very mobile. But aside from having difficulty walking, which he insists doing unaided, Ed is fine and quite happy.

On June 10, 1971 Rochdale Governing Council voted to approve the closure of the Rochdale College Sculpture Shop's bank account with the Canadian Imperian Bank of Commerce.

In Rochdale Ed was a handsome, intelligent, talented, energetic and charming artist with a notorious reputation as a ladies man and seducer. According to Ed's brother Kamill, Ed thought of himself as part Don Juan. Kamill said, "It was part of him which he never hid and never flaunted. Women just stuck to him like flies to sticky paper." Ed was romantic, not a womanizer, and women pursued him. It probably helped that he was known to be well endowed. He could work miracles, such as creating the magnificent "Unknown Student" sculpture with no budget.

Dianne Lee Coyle, the wife of Derek Heinzerling and the mother of his three sons, worked as a bookkeeper at Rochdale. She grew up in Indianapolis and now lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Dianne married Derek on February 14, 1970 at a Unitarian Church in Toorotten. It was a double wedding with Judith Merril's daughter Ann Pohl marrying Alan Reed. Alan worked at the Hassle Free Clinic with Ann, who ran it. He also worked on the "Unknown Student" sculpture and was friends with Derek before Canada. Reed attended art school and is from Indiana as well. Alan and Ann later divorced and she married Walter Weary. Ann's father was Frederik Pohl, the famous science fiction writer, and Judith Merril was Pohl's third of five wives. Ann and Walter's daughter is writer Emily Pohl-Weary.

Derek Heinzerling said: "When I designed it, I was unhappy and discouraged. I could never do anything like that anymore, because I'm not so discouraged now. I found the place to be a dirty hole, for the most part. We moved to Sullivan St. and then Kensington Market. Then the Beaches, then Kingston Road. In 1975 I went back to art school at N.S.C.A.D. University in Halifax. Before coming across the border I lived in New York City after my first year of art school –
everybody in the Village was going west. I left Canada in 1982 to take my kids to my hometown in Indiana. They grew up and I followed the sun. After my second year of art school, I moved to Boulder, from there to San Francisco and the Art Institute there. I'm in Albuquerque these days.

"I had seen Ed on irregular occasions after his accident. He was t-boned at an intersection on his motorcycle and nearly killed. Ed had severe head trauma, all busted up, and was hospitalized for months. He wasn't the same, but after I left town I never heard a thing about him. He had a lot of sculpture in Victoria and maybe Vancouver from his years pre-Toronto."

Because the "Unknown Student" was a group effort, it is difficult to assign the artist credit. Ed Apt considers it to be a group effort. Derek Heinzerling considers it to be Ed's sculpture, even though Derek should get the credit as designer. He says, "This whole group effort: the concept, the premise, the process, the conceit, was absurd. Sounds like a description of Rochdale College. Ed's personal touch is all over my sculpture, so much so that it is Ed's sculpture. The sculpture is Ed's. I thought it was obvious – this is not a generosity of spirit, this is why I walked away."

Derek is very bitter about the changes made to his original design. Although it was a group effort, Derek inexplicably imagined that Ed and his students should have worked their asses off to create his imitation Rodin sculpture with no changes whatsoever. He was just a kid with no art education nor understanding of the technical difficulties involved to create his intricate original design.

He said: "I hate the name of the sculpture, and I hate the brick-end texture of the piece. All that and the toxic fumes in a closed garage forced me to walk away in rage and frustration, plus dizzy. It was the ruination of my piece. I had lost control of my own creation. Still, I claim the original design – it was vibrant with the spirit of the times. The model is long gone, and what we're left with is Ed's interpretation. My sculpture had fingers and toes, facial features, spinal column, ears, butt cheeks. The surface had clay modeling and tooling texture – a Rodin, impressionism kind of thing. Sinews, muscles, details, feeling. My sculpture was not an imitation of Rodin, it was wholly mine with references and homage to Rodin. It was not realistic, at most impressionistic – re: Rodin. It originally had its back turned to the street – my idea and consistent with the design and concept – turning it's back on society."

"The sculpture is cracked from bricks thrown off the top floor of Crotchdale."

Yes, the "Unknown Student" was cracked and re-positioned facing society. In 1975 Rochdale College was closed and allowed to "cool down" for a few years before it was renovated into The Senator David A. Croll Apartments as a subsidized seniors' residence that opened in 1979. Early in the 21st century bricks were thrown off the roof of Rochdale onto the sculpture causing fairly large cracks in the shoulder areas. Water damage would have destroyed it. The current owner of the sculpture is Toorotten Community Housing Corporation, a fascist "company" owned by the City of Toronto, and they were responsible. TCHC had the sculpture repaired in 2011. There is now no evidence of the damage. However, there are as many as a dozen hairline cracks, mostly in the middle of the back where they are long. Otherwise, the "Unknown Student" still looks great.

© 2011 Kamill Apt and Wolf Sullivan