Hillcrest Grad Leaves a Legacy With Sculpture

One man’s trash could be George Tobolowsky’s next scultpure.

Eight years ago, Tobolowsky came upon some push carts at a scrap yard. They reminded him of his childhood, when he and his younger brother would play on similar carts while their father worked.

“We would play around in my father’s warehouse,” Tobolowsky said, “messing around like kids would do.”

The combination inspired the sculptor’s piece “Surfing the Warehouse,” which he donated to his alma mater, Hillcrest High School, on Oct. 17.

As a found-objects sculptor, Tobolowsky works mainly with metal materials. He collects an average of one ton in metal a month, and can have up to 10,000 found objects in his studio at once.

For this piece, Tobolowsky used a push cart — the kind used to transport almost a thousand pounds of cotton or cloth around warehouses, and utilized big pieces of equipment that had been cut up to create the abstract scultpure now featured at Hillcrest.

The sculpture is meant to look like two abstract kids playing on a cart, he said.

Tobolowsky, who graduated in 1967, didn’t begin to explore his artistic side until college, where he was able to work with James Surls while at SMU. While he would spend his days in business classes, his afternoons were often spent in the art studio with Surls, who would become a lifelong colleague and mentor.

After spending 30 years as a tax lawyer and a businessman, Tobolowsky was encouraged by his former mentor to return full-time to the art world. That was almost 10 years ago.
Today, Tobolowsky has produced more than 400 sculptures and has been featured in shows around the world.

“I think one of the things that’s great about George’s work is it’s really left open to the interpretation of those who are enjoying it,” said Dr. LeeAnn Bartee, principal of Hillcrest High School. “And the students are able to interact with it.”

Originally opened in 1938 as Vickery Meadows High School, Hillcrest celebrated its 75th anniversary two years ago.

Tobolowsky’s donation to the school serves as an example of alumni generosity. And Bartee hopes it will inspire future alumni to continue to look back on their time at Hillcrest with fondness.

“Our alumni and graduates speak of their time [at Hillcrest] well, setting a tone for the rest of the life they have,” Bartee said. “I want us to be able to continue that with those that are graduating.”

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