‘Ukrainian Tears’ expresses local sculptor’s anguish over destructive war

Photos by Tom Rivers: Richard Bannister, a sculptor, stands by a metal sculpture he placed on his property on Maple Avenue near Eagle Harbor Road. Bannister’s “Ukrainian Tears” was placed outside by the road on Saturday. He is hopeful it will be displayed in Ukrainian cultural centers in either Buffalo or Rochester.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 August 2022 at 5:43 pm

BARRE – Richard Bannister fought in the Vietnam War more than a half century ago with the US Army. He hoped the world would never see such destruction and loss of life again.

Richard Bannister has been creating sculptures for more than 30 years. He said the “teardrop” sculpture just flowed out of him as he grieved the damage and loss of life after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 and has continued an onslaught for nearly six months.

But Bannister watched the TV in horror on Feb. 24 when Russia invaded Ukraine. The Russian attacks haven’t stopped with unrelenting missile strikes that have caused more than $100 billion in damage to the Ukraine, displacing about 8 million Ukrainians.

“When I saw that it tore my heart out,” Bannister said today outside his home on Maple Avenue. “It’s 2022. This isn’t 1922 or 1822. What we’re seeing is evil.”

Bannister is a long-time sculptor, making creations out of steel, wood, marble and bronze. His most famous local work may be the Big Apple in Medina, a 20-foot-high sculpture of an apple by the Erie Canal near the Glenwood Avenue bridge.

Bannister has created a new 8-foot-high metal sculpture he calls “Ukrainian Tears.” He worked on it for two weeks, which he said is fast for a larger-scale piece. He said the metal that he bent and shaped fit together perfectly with less struggle than usual. The sculpture resembles a teardrop. Sometimes he works on a piece for more than a year.

“This just came from my soul,” he said about the artwork.

He painted it in the Ukraine national colors of gold and blue. On Saturday he placed the 500-pound sculpture by the road near his driveway on maple Avenue, just west of the Eagle Harbor Road intersection.

Bannister expects the sculpture will stay in Barre for a couple weeks. He would like it to have a bigger audience, perhaps at the Ukrainian cultural centers in Buffalo or Rochester.

Bannister earns his living running a peach thinning business where he travels to 17 states. But art and sculptures remain a passion.

He wants to create at least one outdoor piece a year to add to his property with the goal of having an art park at the site. Right now people driving by can see a 20-foot0high cactus and a 4-foot-high green apple that he made.

“As people go by and see them it changes their thought patterns,” Bannister said. “I’m just trying to activate their brain.”

Bannister said he hopes people driving will take note of the sculptor and reflect on the war.

Richard Bannister also has sculptures of a 20-foot-high cactus and 4-foot high apple on his wooded property. He would like to add outdoor sculptures to the site each year and create an art park.