“This is beautiful,” declared a young man as he walked up the steps of the Amsterdam Free Library to open the newly dedicated door. It seemed to me in that moment that the artist who created the copper sculpture adorning the new door had already achieved his goal to inspire future generations.
I had a chance yesterday to talk with the artist William Bush and his assistant John Miller, who have been working on the library’s door and entrance-way for nearly a year. The door was dedicated on Friday at a Fulton-Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony attended by library officials, chamber staff, and local elected officials.
Bush is the owner of Bush Products Inc. of Amsterdam. According to the company’s website, he has done previous commission work for the Jesuit Order at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs and the Kateri Tekakwithia Chapel.
During the ceremony, Bush said the inscription above the library’s door “open to all” was what provided the initial inspiration for the work.
Bush said he experienced some push back about removing the old, narrow doors. He recounted a lady who approached him several times during the project.
“She was insistent on wanting those [old] doors and that this was a mistake,” said Bush. “The fact is that the doors were rotten. They could not be restored.”
Bush was forthright about his feelings on the subject and said, “There’s two types of people in this community. We have those who reminisce and those who are creative. And there’s a lot more that reminisce, and those individuals are stuck in time.”
Bush said his vision is to create “new memories” for future generations, and said the role of older generations is to enhance those memories with history.
I asked Bush about the construction of the door. He said that all the elements were hand-made. He added, “That’s all hand-hammered and formed to fit the door. And then all the words, the fonts in there, are cut out by hand, and hand filed. All the details on the children and the books and everything are all hand-applied with soldering and scraping.”
Pointing out the texture of the brass push bars on the inside of the door, Bush said, “We calculated how many indentations we put in each one…each push bar took 30,000 swings of a ball-peen hammer.”
Both Bush and Miller volunteered their time to create the sculpture. The oak and mahogany door that the sculpture is attached to, as well as the entrance-way work, was paid for by the library, but was also made possible with contributions of time, materials, and equipment from JSB Manufacturing, Manor Glass, Ace Hardware, Mohawk Sign Systems, Rayco of Schenectady, and Robert Martin.
“We want the door that’s going to be here…to last and also that is a point of interest,” said Miller.
Miller’s two children, Rachel and Eric served as models for the sculpture.
If the fine detail of the work wasn’t enough to enjoy, Bush also hinted that there is a coded message within the design of the sculpture.
Bush said he was optimistic that work that is necessary for the library to complete in the future, such as the roof and windows, could be accomplished by reaching out to wealthy individuals and businesses in the region.