Posts tagged vermont
Outdoor Art at Shelburne Museum

Movement is critical for getting into the moment, for being of a time and in a place. Perhaps the best thing an artist can offer a viewer is the chance to become a little more aware of themselves. Outdoor art spaces hold the potential for that to happen.

A recent special event at the Shelburne Museum drew a large crowd on a perfect summer evening. I was there to welcome visitors to Fantasy Topography, my temporary, environmental art installation in a pine grove on the grounds. It was great to see lots of people walking around and in the sculpture. Many thanks to those who stopped by to chat, and to the staff for all they do to make an enjoyable time for those attending the museum’s once-a-month, Free Friday.

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Stone Walls Grow Value

Most of the works done in the dry stone trade take place without fanfare. They serve basic needs by establishing boundaries, buttressing slopes and moderating ascents. They’re experienced as well-functioning while being hardly noticed. In fact, one sign of a successful new project is that those using it feel that it must have always been there. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be a sight to behold. Functional stonework can be arrestingly beautiful, often the more so with age. Stonework, done right, proves its worth day after day, year after year. The expense is left behind while the value continues forward.

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Art in the Balance

To be in touch and in tune with nature has a centering effect on us. Couple the outdoors with a creative pursuit, and engagement with both is enriched because together they sharpen and heighten our spatial orientation. My environmental art piece Fantasy Topography seeks to bring pleasure to the core.

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A Stone Livestock Pound

What was the first public structure built to safeguard harmony in early agricultural communities? Who were the hog reeves and why were they sometimes recently married, young men? What did impecunious pound-brechers do to deserve 30 lashes? These questions and more will be answered during a program I’ll be giving at the Dummerston Historical Society’s quarterly meeting Thursday July 18th at 7:30 pm. I hope you’ll join me for an evening exploring the history of Dummerston’s town pound and take a walk around the dry stone pound, erected ten years ago, next to the Historical Society building.

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Length In: Developing a Frame of Mind in Dry Stone Walling

A belief set in the mind of many beginner dry stone wallers is that a wall is what it looks like on the outside, when it actually is what is not seen, on the inside. To accept a wall stone at face value is to believe that what shows is most of what that stone is, but in a well built wall, most is concealed, securely trapped inside the construction.

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Rocky Toppers

The studio has been filling up with rocky toppers this winter. The half-products are elements in a sculpture to be installed as part of a new outdoor exhibition at Shelburne Museum. The uniquely shaped objects will be arranged atop berms of loose stone. The completed piece will sprawl across the floor of a pine forest, flowing between and around the tree trunks.

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2017 Stone Projects and Art Travels

The 2017 work year was a variety-pack of projects and travels bringing rocks and people together. Projects from 2017 now lie nestled in snow, while projects for 2018 are already underway.

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TCLF Garden Dialogues: Artists in Residence: Vermont

A fourth generation of the Key family has begun to ramble Winhall Hollow. Pond and stream, woods and fields, are the wider setting for their active home and garden life. Into the mix comes long-time friend and dry stone specialist, Dan Snow. He has constructed numerous stone features on the grounds around their house and barns. Stone from the property has been used to fashion steps, patios, retaining walls and fences. Robin Key’s landscape design has seamlessly woven a contemporary aesthetic into the historic fabric of the Hollow.

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Action in a Resting Place

Understandably, the present strives toward the future, but there’s nothing to say we can’t, from time to time, turn around and walk backwards into it. In that way, momentum can be maintained while gazing back, with love and affection, on those who have come before. They might appreciate it, and our steps may be lightened by the expanded outlook on our place in time.

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Lucy's Place

Just as the removal of one letter from the word ”whole” creates a “hole”, the loss of a family member leaves a void for those left behind. One way to help heal the rift is to remember the departed with a permanent marker on the landscape. A stone memorial can fuse the acknowledgment of their passing with the memory of their life on earth.

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A Ripple Effect in Stone and Steel

As part of its 40th anniversary, the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont commissioned me to create a permanent, interactive, environmental art piece. The result is a 1,000 sq. ft. dry stone and stainless steel sculpture that rises like a geologic upthrust from the open space alongside the museum entryway. Visitors can walk, climb and sit on the undulant surfaces of the work, or, simply view it on their way to, and from, the building.

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Montshire Museum Raindrops

A raindrop splashing on still water ripples the surface with expanding wave rings that grow in number as they diminish in height. From the purity of the physics involved comes a simple beauty. Liquid in motion is mesmerizing to watch because it’s constantly changing while remaining the same. For the upcoming project at Montshire Museum I will petrify an instant in the life of two raindrops.

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Artist Statement Stone Clouds

Stone Clouds is a tribute to the sustainable agriculture practiced by generations of Mettawee Valley farmers who've picked tons of stones from their fields, all by hand.

Every year, the plow turns up more stones in Ken Leach’s cornfield. It appears they’ve floated up through the rich Mettawee Valley soil from below the surface when in fact they’ve floated down upon the face of the earth from far above.

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Bench Season

It’s a good time of year to tackle the smaller projects. Trenching by hand isn’t so bad if the shovel work can get done in the cool of the morning. A bench can be assembled with a minimum of loader travel across a spongy lawn. This month I’ve realized two designs. Both are basic, three-stone constructions but with personalities all their own. One relies on interlocking opposites, while the other counts on monolithic mass, to stand and stay put.

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Building the Ruminator

In the beginning the idea was to make it a solitary object out in the field north of the garden. I had visions of a compost carousel with four pie-shaped stalls. Then it was a long barrow-shaped affair with tractor ramps to the top of the bins. I knew little about composting but I was having lots of fun with modeling clay imagining the construction of a dry stone Ruminator. Scale model making is an enjoyable pursuit that helps develop spatial acuity. The process of shaping clay is slow enough for deliberation to take place and fast enough for a form to observably emerge. Results unfold in an organic fashion.

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Woodland Farms Garden Conservancy Open Days

The prospect was uninviting. Could I build a stone disguise for an electrical transformer? The call came at a busy time late in the last century. I advised the caller to check back again in a year. One year later, to the day, I received a second call from Rick and Susan Richter. The request for a short wall around the transformer was still on the table but they had a few other items they were interested in having me build for them on their Springfield, Vermont property. A dry stone fence around the fruit and vegetable garden was now at the top of their to-do list. Thus began my ten year working relationship, and continuing friendship, with Susan and Rick.

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Vermont Arts Council Award

Fifty years ago I won a blue ribbon in the Brattleboro Sidewalk Art Show. Thirty years ago I won a National Endowment for the Arts award for designing a local amphitheatre. This week I received a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council. Some might say, the awards in my artistic career have been few and far between. I believe their rarity makes them all the more precious. Being recognized by my beloved green mountain state is especially dear.

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Time by the Seasons

At daybreak on March 7th Mount Monadnock appears on the horizon in bold silhouette.  Soon after, the sun’s corona sets the mountain top ablaze. On only two days a year am I able to witness this phenomena from my home. The next time will be in October as the sun inches south along the horizon line past its date with the autumnal equinox. The speed of the sun’s rising and the intensity of it burning is shocking when viewed against Monadnock’s dark outline. I feel like I’m witnessing a cataclysmic event when the fringe of sky above the mountain erupts in a dome of molten yellow light. For an instant, I’m overtaken by the primordial fear that my earth is being consumed by fire. Soon after, the sun’s benevolent form reestablishes itself and takes its familiar place in the morning sky.

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