Born March 20, 1953 in Oak Park, Illinois, Dan Kaplan’s creative energies blossomed as a sculptor during the early seventies in college.  He majored in psychology, but had a fascination for art.  Wrought from a vision on campus, he immortalized the experience with the work, Emergence & Transformations, ’74.  (close-up above)  Below is a review of the sculpture:

Harry Bouras on ‘Critic’s Choice’, 98.7 WFMT radio, June 1, 1975

“...Let me rush on and say that for me, the best of show and the piece you must rush up to see is a piece by Dan Kaplan of Glenview, Illinois.  Called Emergence & Transformations, it’s made out of wood and mirrors and burnt plastic and the like and it cost $850 dollars, which must be the lowest price in the world for a gigantic work of art. 

It is a big, clumsy, ugly, stupidly done, bravely heroic, wonderfully rich, deeply ambitious, magnificently thought out rhetoric for the condition of man, for the human condition right now.  His clumsiness is an outgrowth of his passion.

Imagine if you will:  The piece must be about eighteen feet long, made out of burned, great wooden chunks that are assembled together.  There are mirrors standing, and what seems to be thousands of little figures passing through these great portals which seem to be the entrance to hell.  And these wooden figures that have all been burned and are painted a dark brown, these figures come through a landscape of charred pieces of bone and matte and so on, out of the world of Dante with the mentality of Samuel Beckett, to give it meaning.

They wander through the mirrors and the labyrinth ‘til they’re processed at the other end of this thing where they’re either burnt into great piles of ash and bone, or turned into figures in constant deference and worship to a large, gate-like figure that enters into absolutely nothing; a structure which is separate from the sculpture itself.

I think Mr. Kaplan, Dan Kaplan, in spite of his ungainliness and foolishness now, the weakness and the wild ambition of it and the limitations of technique, is verging on trying to make a very great and a very important art.  It’s highly unsalable and I doubt if you’ll see many shows of it, but it’s really wonderful stuff and one cannot wait to see where he goes with his figures.”