Salisbury Post - Torrence Article

Publication Salisbury Post
Date October 06, 2005
Section(s) Time Out

By Katie Scarvey
Salisbury Post

Like many people in Salisbury, sculptor and painter Robert Toth was and is a big fan of Jackie Torrence, the Story Lady, who died last November, 2004.

He holds the storyteller in such high esteem as an artist that he has paid her one of his highest compliments: he has immortalized her image as a sculpture.

"I wanted to pay tribute to this master storyteller who touched so many people," Toth says.

Since the 1960s, Toth has done more than 30 sculpture portraits of famous people, including composers, philosophers, writers and inventors. His gallery of greats includes Wolfgang Mozart, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Maria Montessori.

Genius in all its different forms fires up Toth creatively.

Torrence is the first local figure that Toth has sculpted, and he feels that the figure is his best work since a portrait he did of Beethoven in 1977 for Lincoln Center in New York City.

"You do your best work when you're passionate about something," he says.

Toth says he met Torrence about 10 years ago at a fundraiser held at the Old Stone House for Rowan Museum.

After Torrence died, Toth says he got a "vibration" to create a piece honoring her.

"I saw it as my responsibility," he said.

Toth's bust of Jackie Torrence will be on public display for the first time at the Fine Frame Gallery in downtown Salisbury during Lord Salisbury's Night Out on the Town Friday. The public unveiling is at 7 p.m. The bust that the public will see this Friday is cast in plaster and finished to look like bronze.

Toth would love to find donors to subsidize a bronze cast, and he hopes the sculpture can find a permanent home in Salisbury. He thinks that the children's section at the Rowan Public Library would be appropriate.

Torrence actually got her start as a storyteller at the High Point library, where she started telling stories to keep peace among the children. Before her life was over, she had told her tales all over the world.

"Torrence's stories inspired and touched people," Toth says. "She was a real artist."